Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the night before Christmas...

...and all through the stash, not a needle was stirring... um... wait... no knitting? What? The words are English but they make no sense. And I'm not talking last-minute holiday knitting, either, even though... well, okay, you caught me, I'm doing some last-minute holiday knitting because I was suddenly inspired to make a warm woolly hat and neckwarmer for an aunt I haven't seen in a while, and I have until Sunday to finish. And I still haven't finished DH's socks, so they'll be "around Christmas" socks, and that's okay. He'll still get them.

I did finish this Spiraluscious cowl (Ravelry link) for my mother-in-law, done up in silky soft domestic cashmere from Breezy Meadows cashmere farm:

I've got enough in the skein to make one for myself. This is the softest, most luscious cashmere ever, what cashmere really ought to be, not the stuff coming out of China these days.

When we visited my mother-in-law last summer, I found out she likes angora, wears woolly socks in the winter, and likes blue. So I put all three together and knitted these woolly socks with angora cuffs, using the zig-zag sock pattern from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn:

Got the woolly, got the angora, just need the blue, which I knew would be hard to match when using two different yarns, so I went with white angora and undyed KnitPicks sock yarn, then used plain ol' food coloring and lemon juice as an acid to dye them in the crock pot:

Which turned them a lovely, mottled blue:

My son is getting a new hat, the Jacques Cousteau hat in KnitPicks Swish, except I overlooked the fact that it's supposed to be a 3x2 rib and did a 2x2. Oh, well, it still looks good, and it's fully reversible this way:

My son's girlfriend is getting a Grace Lace Beret and Basic Fingerless Mitts (Ravelry link) in KnitPicks Gloss. She and my son just spent last weekend giving us one of the best Christmas presents ever: they cleaned out our garage for us. Yeah, that's one special girlfriend. And definitely knitworthy. In fact, she bought some good yarn so she could rel-learn how to knit over Christmas break. She's a keeper!

Once all my holiday knitting is done, it's back to knitting for MEEEE!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's mine, it's mine, it's... Wollmeise!

It's that yarn that everyone talks about and that turns up on eBay for obscene amounts of cash.

It's Wollmeise!

I'm told by my DH, who speaks a little German, that the proper pronunciation is vol-meez-uh. Which means I've been anglicizing the name totally wrong all this time. ETA: DH told me wrong! It's vol-MY-zuh. And now I can't get the "I'm Mr. Heat Miser" out of my head.

BUT the point is that I didn't spend obscene amounts of money to get it. Our Stephania, our knitting group's indie dyer and yarn pusher ("What'cha got this time, Stephania? Ooh, shiny! WANT!") has a secret, which seems to involve a Firefox plug-in, one of the Wollmeise vendors, and a new baby keeping her up at all hours of the night, including the hours that Wollmeise is listed and gets snatched up almost instantly. By procuring odd lots and grab bags, she's able to bring skeins of the stuff to meet-ups, where it's snarfed up by the rest of us for a rational price instead of an eBay price.

Out of the last lot, I picked this skein, in a rich purply-burgundy:

Now, is Wollmeise really so special that some folks are willing to part with hundreds for a single skein? Ummm... it's very nice sock yarn, but so are Malabrigo and Cherry Tree Hill. It's the super-saturated colors that people are after, and of course other brands offer those, too.

And -- well -- it's getting the Wollmeise bragging rights. To say, yes, it's in my stash. Yes, I actually touched a real skein of the real thing. Yes, I'm in the club! Ooh. Shiny.

Now, what does one do with a skein of THAT wool that everyone wants? After petting and admiring it, I think this one is going to be a lace shawl rather than socks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Knitting Scholarship? For real?

Yes! Athletes can have scholarships for their skills, smart students get scholarships for mental prowess, and members of school clubs may have scholarships all their own. Now, for us fiber enthusiasts, there's a knitting scholarship! Read the article on Knitting News about the Beans for Brains scholarships, brought to you by Jimmy Beans Wool and Vogue Knitting.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I've been on the couch most of the day. There is a pile of soggy tissues and an empty juice cup on the end table.

Yeah, I've got the creeping crud. Bleagh. All my hand-washing and hand-sanitizing to ward off the things my students bring to school with them, and I was brought down when my DH came home with a cold himself. One stray kiss -- "Oops, sorry, forgot" -- and then another sometime later, and yet another... do they make lip sanitizer? 'Cause I could use some.

It's not the flu, just a rotten cold, rotten enough to make my nose run like a faucet and give me a low-grade fever Wednesday night that made me sleep poorly (I must have slept on and off because stuff happened that I know couldn't have really happened). Thursday I went in to school long enough to return graded exams and deliver a lecture, then went home and curled up with the vaporizer for the afternoon. Thursday night I slept well enough that I thought I'd do okay Friday, reinforced by a 24-hour antihistamine and some aspirin.

Mistake! Bad mistake! I barely staggered through the day, making sure I slathered on the hand sanitizer before grading and handing back papers. Oh, the stupid decisions we make when the brain is distracted by a cold!

Today I've been perched on the couch all day, working on my NaNoWriMo novel (over 7000 words in one day and passed up the 50,000 word mark, hooah!), and knitting. The one consolation to sitting on the couch all day is having some luscious cashmere (beautiful domestic cashmere from Breezy Meadow Cashmere Farm) to work on:

The pattern is Spiraluscious, a lovely little cowl that was designed for fingering-weight yarn, but this laceweight on size 4 needles seems to be getting near gauge.

The bad part? Is when you feel so rotten with a cold that you don't even feel like knitting with cashmere. Cashmere! Yeah, that's a rotten cold.

The kitties have been consoling me all day. I've had at least one cat with me, sometimes two or three, most of the day. Odin is all soft and poofy and orange and has the most luxuriant purr. Belle decided she needed a nap, too -- in my big knitting bag, the little darlin'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where in the world...?

Nothing knitting-related, but this little "map where you've been" thingie is kind of fun. Here's where I've been in the U.S. We hit lots of states on our Oregon-Indiana road trips with the kids, and others I've gone to for conferences. I'm not counting Colorado even though I've gone through the Denver airport many times because airports aren't really "there." I'm not sure they even count as reality.

visited 24 states (48%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

And in the world -- hmm, not much of a globetrotter... yet:

visited 2 states (0.88%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sheepy in NYC

It's not often that The Sartorialist and I agree on what's great in fashion -- once in a while, but sometimes what he calls "fabulous!" I call, "Um, really? And your mother lets you leave the house like that?" (Or once in a while, "Oh, look, the circus is in town!")

But today -- check out this great sheepy sweater with jeans and pearls (little hint on the right -- follow the link to see it all). Yeah, that's fashion I can get on board with.

It's not that easy, Ebenezer Scrooge...

A frank plug:

So, in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge was visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, he reformed his life and his soul was saved forever and always.


Oh, it's not that easy. Not according to the novel my dear hubby wrote, and is now published by a wee tiny press and out on Charity of Ebenezer Scrooge: A Christmas Carol II

Do you really think that Lucifer will let the old miser go to the side of goodness and mercy without a fight? The three ghosts were given one night to reform Scrooge. Now three demons have an entire year to bring him back -- and take his new-found friends and his entire charity down with him.

This is a rip-snorter that will have you up all night to find out what happens next. You can read the first few pages on Amazon. Demons! Ghosts! Romance! Danger! Great writing! What more could you ask for?

Makes a great gift! ::she says, grinning widely::

Did the Knit Princess adopt our cats?

Today's Knit Princess looks all too familiar. When given the choice of a hand-knitted kitty bed and a pile of random papers on the floor, which does kitty prefer? Yeah, she's been around our house, all right!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monsters, cables, and FOs, oh, my!


The shrug I've been working on is finally complete. Well, more or less. After putting it on I think the ribbing around the opening should be an inch wider. The chunky-looking Terra yarn from The Fibre Company seems to call for more than the 3 inches of ribbing that the original pattern said to use.

The shrug began as a free simple shrug pattern from Caron yarns. I added a Celtic cable (also called the Saxon braid) from Super Stitches Knitting, flanked by two 4 by 4 cables twisting in opposite directions.

Here's a detail of the cable pattern:

And no sooner had I finished the shrug (which I wore to school the Friday before Halloween over a black cotton top and a long woolen black skirt, with black boots, to be sort of Celtic and cable-y and y'know, mysterious and all), than I took up the needles and some Lion Brand Organic cotton and started work on two mini-versions of Penelope the Empathetic Monster from Danger Crafts. One of my colleagues lost a sister to a long, terminal disease, and another just lost his mother quite suddenly. I thought they both needed some empathy, in small, desk-sized versions. By Monday evening I had two mini-Penelopes:

One in green and pink:
And one in blue and green:
They appeared like magic on the desks of their recipients this morning and were much appreciated.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Making some little differences on Make a Difference Day

A little leftover superwash sock yarn, a pattern for the Basic Baby Spiral Hat from Ravelry, and voila! Some warm little preemie caps for our city hospital's NICU.

Today is Make a Difference Day, a day when people all over the US are busy giving their time to various volunteer projects. My knitting group's project was small -- because the recipients are all pretty small. These tiny little hats help premature babies retain warmth, which helps their chances of survival.

Here are the ones we collected this afternoon. They're off to be blessed, then will be taken to the hospital:

Our hospital has around ten preemies to care for every month, so preemie hats are kind of our ongoing project. Several skeins of baby yarn just started making the rounds among us for the next collection date.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Bayeux Tapestry, In Motion!

History is told by the winner, and the famous Bayeux Tapestry (actually an embroidery, to be picky about it) is no exception. Harold claimed the throne of England. William, over in Normandy, thought he'd been promised the throne. In 1066, William took his troops over the channel to England, Harold was killed at Hastings, William of Normandy took the throne of England, and that's why the English language today has a whole lot of French in it. To commemorate the event, the ladies of William's side embroidered the tapestry, entirely from the Norman point of view (Harold's people had a slightly different take on the matter), over 70 meters of history, graphic violence, and naughty bits in the margins. The original graphic novel, if you will.

Now see it in animation, with soundtrack!

Brought to you by Open Culture, the most intelligent videos on YouTube.

Monday, October 19, 2009

From the Ashes of Disaster...

Remember the Case of the Misplaced Purls? The knitting fates must have decided it was time for a sequel, I guess. I was working happily along on my Celtic cable shrug, in yummy Terra yarn by The Fibre Company, when I spotted this six inches down from the needles:

You'd think I would have noticed six inches ago that the cable was crossing the wrong way, but no, distracted by the combined wool, alpaca, and silk fumes, I kept merrily along, making wrong-way cable after wrong-way cable, until I finally thought, "Hey... weren't the two four-by-four cables supposed to twist in opposite directi....ohhhh, &*#@!!!"

Entirely loath to frog back six inches of fancy cable work, I figured there wasn't much to lose in trying the drop-down-two-stitches-and-re-work-just-the-cable trick. So knit over to the offending cable, chose one side of it, and let 'er rip.

After catching the dropped stitches at the point where I needed to reverse direction, I took up a second DPN and set to work, re-knitting the dropped stitches and putting the cable to rights:


This put me in mind of the following ditty from the old Disney movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the cute movie with the awful title that kids had way too much fun making fun of. Nominally it's about a car. Mostly it's about a lot of catchy little pub tunes in search of a plot. Like this one:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Knitting and Climate Change? Really?

Hello, Blog Action Day! It's that day again where bloggers all over the globe blog about the same global issue, and this year it's global climate change.

So what does an ages-old, creative, comforting activity like knitting have to do with climate, carbon emissions, and the like? Do woolly socks or alpaca mitts relate at all to "going green?"

As winter sets in and the heating bills rise, we can spot one blatantly obvious connection: hand-knit woollies keep you warm and let you turn the heat down, thus burning less oil, natural gas, or electricity (which in many parts of the US is produced by coal-burning plants). If you've ever engaged in the "furnace wars" game, refusing to turn on the furnace before your neighbor/sibling/best enemy does, or stubbornly waiting until the end of September... or October... or November (brave soul) to turn it on, you know the importance of having warm gear in which to wrap your goose-pimply self, while feeling smug about reducing your carbon footprint.

But let's go beyond the obvious because frankly, for some people, turning the heat down a few degrees is one thing, but turning off the heat and bundling up against the cold on dark winter nights is downright depressing. It makes one feel like a disaster survivor.

There's more that knitting does for a person than just keep the body warm. Let's start by considering the new knitter's pride when wearing a scarf he or she just made (I'm going to switch genders of our hypothetical knitter throughout this essay, since historically speaking, knitting has never been an exclusively gendered activity). There's a connection between the knitter and the scarf that is just not there when buying a machine-made scarf at a department store. Who knows where the scarf came from? Who knows who was involved in making it? Like as not, the scarf was made from acrylic, a petroleum product, made on machines that required petroleum fuel, in a sweatshop employing underpaid and overworked garment workers, and shipped thousands of miles to get to the store. Her own scarf? She knows exactly who made it, that it was not made in a sweatshop and didn't have to be shipped thousands of miles. Yeah, stick it to the multinational corporations!

Sort of. There's still the yarn to consider.

Perhaps the knitter began with a skein of grocery store acrylic when making the scarf. But then she walks into a real yarn store for the first time and discovers the joys of merino, alpaca, silk, camel, mohair, and more. Natural fibers! So luscious! What colors! Ah, a fiber snob is born. Now our knitter, no longer satisfied with the Pound-o-Petroleum yarn from the big box store for things he's putting on his own body, starts to learn where yarn comes from.

And in the process, knitters learn the uncomfortable truth that just because a fiber is "natural" doesn't mean it's "green." The knitter learns that all-cotton yarn takes more petroleum to grow and manufacture than does the acrylic. She also learns that the "bamboo" yarn isn't spun from fibers from bamboo stems as she'd thought, but is rayon made from chemically-extracted cellulose derived from bamboo. That's several toxic-solvent-soaked steps from what she'd imagined "bamboo" yarn to be. Now she starts investigating organic yarns. Then she starts to question the dyes, and discovers that some strains of cotton grow already pigmented, or she starts admiring naturally-colored wools from different colored sheep or llamas, or she stumbles across an Etsy shop with yarns dyed with plant dyes, or she learns that she can dye wool yarn at home with Kool-aid. What fun!

Later, the knitter learns that a big push for cashmere production in China is causing massive environmental destruction and Mongolian goat herders are now facing starving herds and falling cashmere prices. At the same time, quality of cashmere has dropped, not only because of the health of the goats, but our knitter learns there is something called "dehairing" that leaves only the soft undercoat if it's done right, but removes a big percentage of the original mass of the fleece. And by scrimping on the dehairing process, Chinese yarn producers can get more yarn per fleece, but the quality suffers drastically.

Then our knitter goes to a local fiber festival and finds yarn from a cashmere ranch not more than 100 miles away from his home town. It's the most soft, cloud-like cashmere ever. Wow, higher quality (and higher price), but locally grown. Could there be anything better?

Of course there could. At the same fiber festival, our knitter spots spinners everywhere, as well as fleece and roving for sale. Hmm, she thinks, spinning looks kind of fun, and gives you even more fibery enjoyment for your money -- time spent spinning and knitting with the same fiber. She wanders into the animal barn and meets people who are raising sheep, goats, angora rabbits, alpacas, and llamas. There she meets a pygora goat named Pickwick and learns that for a certain price, she can have Pickwick's fleece for spinning when the little goat is sheared. Wow. Not only can she knit her own scarf, but she can knit it from hand-spun pygora fleece. And what's more, it's fleece not from who-knows-what goat from who-knows-where, but it's fleece from Pickwick, the goat she petted at the fiber festival who lives at a farm just outside of her home town and has the most gorgeous brown eyes and winsome expression on her cute little face.

You see where I'm going with this? The more knitters take interest in the fibers they knit with, the more they discover about sources and the various impacts that fiber production can have on the environment. We can't live without making some impact on the world around us, of course, but just as the "eat local" movement has taken hold to support local farmers, to take a more thoughtful look at how we use our environment, and to live more lightly on the earth, there's a growing sense that "knit local" and "spin local" are pretty good ideas, too.

Living lightly on the earth is what "going green" is really all about. Ever since the years following WWII, the US economy has been all about more and more people buying more and more stuff per capita year after year. We moved from being producers of goods to being consumers of goods. The hard truth, though, is that kind of economy is neither environmentally nor ecologically sustainable. It's what we've got, but it can't last. Changing will be hard, but change we must.

A knitter lives lightly by choosing production over consumption. The knitter produces knitted garments a few at a time instead of buying quantities of mass-produced sweaters as a form of recreation. The knitter also cares for those garments and may get more wear out of them than machine knit socks or sweaters. The knitter feels more connected to the garments he has made, and is less inclined to pitch them in the charity box just because they're oh-so-last-week. The knitter can make informed choices about fiber sources, and may choose yarn or fleece from local sources. The knitter's productivity may make the multinational corporate owners of overseas garment sweatshops shudder, but while the knitter is concerned about overworked, underpaid garment workers, she doesn't give a goat's whiskers about the multinational CEO who whimpers that he might have to give up his third yacht if people don't get busy buying, wearing once, and throwing away mass-produced clothing like good, brainless little consumers.

So raise your needles, raise your spindles, raise your crochet hooks and let's all stick it to the mass consumption that's gotten us into the global mess we're in!

(As for those knitters whose stash has reached SABLE conditions -- Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy -- remember, my children, production over consumption. Swear on your best skein of sock yarn that from now on, you'll buy only the number of skeins that you've knit since your last yarn-buying excursion, or fewer, until your stash is of a size that won't make non-knitting friends say, "Um, wow, are you planning to open a yarn store?")

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Raising the roof - literally

Two windows broken so far.

Landscaping looking tattered.

Cats terrified.

No, it's not the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane or earthquake or any of the friendly neighborly volcanoes located a convenient distance from our fair city.



Our old mansard-style roof with not-so-very-sloped top and the not-so-very-functional drain holes for the downspouts was not-so-very-functional in our rainy winter weather, and was showing wear long before it ought to have. Instead of just getting the shingles re-done, we decided to second-mortgage ourselves to the hilt and get the entire she-bang removed and replaced with a real roof. One that actually works, thank you very much.

It was amusing at first to live in a house that looked like the Merrimack (the Virginia to y'all down South). Not so amusing when the roof drains badly, when dry rot creeps into several corners, and when I repeatedly bash my head on the mansards when trying to weed behind the shrubs close to the house.

So we called in the contractor who re-built our aging, decrepit deck last year, since they did good work at a fair price, and they're hard at work ripping off the old roof and replacing it with the new. It's going to have super-guaranteed asphalt shingles in a fetching shade of heathered blue. Because the mansards came off of the sides of the house, the whole house will have to have new siding, which we'll have painted a warm cream, with blue trim. A color scheme a little different from the rest of the neighborhood, but not so different that it's always pointed out as THAT HOUSE when people are giving directions.

Still, as I look around at the swaths of destruction and try to soothe the traumatized cats, I have to keep telling myself, "It will all be worth it in the end... it will all be worth it in the end..."

I'll post before-and-after pictures when it's all over, when our house is all pretty again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival: at least I didn't come home with a goat...

There is a reason to go to Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby with only a limited amount of cash in one's wallet. And this is it:

So many wonderful vendors occupying several buildings and a large space outdoors, all with amazing yarn, fiber, tools, toys, books, and more that if they'd all taken plastic I would have seriously risked bankruptcy. I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head, but, well, start looking for the holes in my head because guess what I came home with?

Jean, Janita, Nanci, and I drove up Saturday afternoon to have a look-see at the festival.

I didn't get many photos because I had a project bag on one wrist and kept my hands occupied with a sock, which kept my hands out of my wallet overmuch, but kinda kept my hands away from my camera, too. I did get a few shots in the barns, like the one above with everyone looking at the angora goats and admiring the mohair that they produced.

Here's an angora getting a haircut. PETA people, do note how pleased the goat looks with itself and please stop the silly rumors that beloved, valuable animals like this are killed for their fleece:

Chinchillas like this, though, used to be raised and slain for their incredibly soft, silky pelts, but these days they're more likely to be pets than pelts. Like hamsters they're nocturnal and apt to bore small children, but they're oh, so lovely to pet. They can also be combed for their downy fur.

There were many angora bunnies like this one, some for show and some for sale. Oh, boy, it's like petting a cloud. I wants me an angora bunny now! Someday. When we don't have seven cats, a guinea pig, two birds, and various strays to take care of. These guys are plucked or shorn for their soft, soft woolly hair. I saw one sitting patiently in a spinners lap while she plucked and spun his wool.

So what was I tempted into buying? Two skeins of fingering-weight natural alpaca from Klamath River Alpacas, which may end up being a narrow Henry scarf:
A skein of Cashmara sock yarn with 10% cashmere, from Fly Designs (it's not quite that dark, but my camera has trouble accurately photographing purples):

And a complete and utterly decadent indulgence: a skein of pure American-grown cashmere from Breezy Meadows Cashmere Farm up near Bellingham, Washington. Oh, my stars, this is what real cashmere is supposed to be like, not the scratchy cheap stuff coming out of China these days:It's destined to be a soft, soft, soft cowl for me and one for my sweet mother-in-law.

And finally, four bags of tea from Tea Time Garden in Kelso, Washington. I got Three Wishes (black tea with rose, grenadine, and vanilla), Lyrical Lemon (green tea with lemon), Jasmine Pear (a black tea), and Rose Cream (also a black tea):
I tried them at work this week and oh, are they ever smooooth! No bitterness, and lovely, lovely flavors and fragrance.

Mind you, I came to the festival with an idea of buying some pygora fiber, and by the time I actually found some, I was out of cash. Piffle. Well, there will be more opportunities to buy pygora.

Monday, September 21, 2009

FO: Sink me!

Odds fish, why, it's lace! Pretty purple and fuchsia lace! Sink me, but that's fine lace, is it not?

The pattern is the Blue Jeans Lace Leaf shawl, so why the archaic talk?


It started out as a lovely skein of handspun silk that I wrote about back in August, which measured about 126 yards after plying:

Using the lace leaf pattern and a pair of US size 1 needles, I knit up the yarn until reached the very end of the skein. The very end, mind you. When I did the last bind off stitch, I had no more than three inches left!

As I was knitting, I thought of what to call the resulting scarf. Berry colors suggested Summer Berries, and that was okay for a while, but last week after working all week to try to get ahead of preparing this term's lectures, I took Friday afternoon off because my brain was exhausted. Going home to knit and watch movies for an afternoon sounded like a terrific idea. What to watch, what to watch... I browsed through the streaming videos on Netflix and settled on The Scarlet Pimpernel, the version with Richard Grant as Sir Percy Blakeney and Martin Shaw as a very... robust Chauvelin. Yum. Knitting silk lace and watching the Scarlet Pimpernel was, I think, an afternoon well spent.

By the time I got through all three episodes, this scarf was forever associated with the Pimpernel. It's now my Scarlet Pimpernel lace scarf.

Now, because before-and-after blocking pictures are always amusing, here's before:

And here's after:
The blocking boards are from KnitPicks, by the way, and they work splendidly. Finished size is 16 inches on the two shorter edges, and I'll have to consult Pythagoras on third side because I forgot to measure it.

My first finished lace project. Sink me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Free Pattern: Garter Stripe Afghan

Some time ago I knitted two afghans for and Afghans for Afghans project when they had a big call for baby blankets for a hospital in Kabul. The blog I was contributing to at the time has faded into the aether of the internet, and my pattern page along with it. But I was smart enough to save the html from the post, so here the pattern is again!

I started with the Easiest Baby Blanket pattern from Knitting Pattern Central, which has a garter edging and a stockinette middle, but I was concerned that since the length and width of individual stitches is different, it would come out weirdly. I also needed the blanket to be a little bigger than the original pattern. The minimum size they need for a newborn blanket is 30 inches by 40 inches — it has to last for a while. So here’s what I came up with:

Garter Stripe Baby Afghan


* 8 to 10 balls Lion Wool Prints (I used Mountain colorway) or any woolly worsted-weight yarn, 3.5-4 oz per skein (MUST be wool or other animal fiber for Afghans for Afghans — acrylic does not insulate well enough).
* Size 15 circular needles

Gauge: whatever. It’ll come out to about 34-36 inches wide.

Holding two strands of wool together, cast on 87 stitches.

Beginning and ending with stripe pattern 1, alternate these two stripe patterns throughout:

Stripe pattern 1:
Knit every row for 8 rows.

Stripe pattern 2:
Row 1: Knit across
Row 2: Knit the first five stitches, Purl up to the last five stitches, Knit the last five stitches.
Repeat until 8 rows have been made.
Repeat the two stripe patterns alternating until the piece measures about 42 inches. Bind off.

For colors, dark or bright colors are best. Pastels and light colors look dirty too quickly. Green is significant to the people of Islam, so consider incorporating green into the design. The “Mountain” colorway that I used has purple, green, blue, and brown.

Monday, September 14, 2009

For the wheat-free

When Jenny in our Ravelry group threw a potluck for her birthday, some of us who knew she (and others in the group) had wheat issues endeavored to bring wheat-free, gluten-free goodies.

A good birthday party needs a good birthday cake, right? Jean supplied the "cake" in the form of a Pavlova, a delicious concoction of baked meringue, fruit, and whipped cream. There are many recipes for Pavolva, such as this one, these, this one, and this simple one.

My contribution was chocolate-mint rice cookies. I had a bag of brown rice flour on the shelf and figured I could put it to good use. Here's the recipe:

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl:
1 1/2 cups of brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

In another bowl, cream together:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar

Beat in:
1 egg
1 or 2 ounces melted baker's chocolate (depending on how chocolaty you want the cookies)
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

Mix the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture about 1/2 cup at a time until blended. Roll the dough out on a surface sprinkled with rice flour. Roll to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, I mixed powdered sugar with water to make a thin goop. I dipped the top of each cookie into the goop and sprinkled with colored sugar, then let the icing dry.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Did anyone ask the cats for their opinion?

Silly. Someone has attempted to declare today "no cats on the internet" day.

Here's what Edison thinks of that idea:

I think they'd have more success with a "no porn on the internet day." Which is to say none at all, minus fifty gazillion.

Odin says, "Yield to my furry cuteness!"


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