2.11.15

busy! busy! busy!

this weekend i...

finished the greninja ex pokemon costume
carved a pumpkin
baked cookies
baked squares (why yes, we are having a bake sale tomorrow! tonight i am baking bbq pork buns)
misc other things like sunday service and swimming classes for the kid and and and...

this photo is pretty terrible (my camera is pretty terrible!) but it's all i've got until we find some daylight time for a re-take!

also took some photos during the sewing-of, which i will post eventually, for anyone who is looking for pokemon costume tips and tricks.

22.10.15

almost there!

so near yet so far. will it get done in time for the weekend?

i hope so!

19.10.15

weekend dining

the weekend, a time to relax and entertain! we grabbed the last of the summer herbs to season roast potatoes and rack of lamb for a small dinner party.

set the table nicely for once, too!

and then ate everything up before we got photos. i did get a snap of dessert though - hazelnut pear cake with hazelnut creme anglaise.

roast rack of lamb and potatoes

rack of lamb
olive oil
mustard powder
rosemary
sage
parsley
potatoes
bacon fat
thyme

preheat oven to 450f.

arrange rack so it stands nicely in a snug roasting dish.

combine oil, mustard powder, and herbs into a paste. coat racks.

toss potatoes in melted bacon fat. sprinkle with thyme.

put both dishes in oven.

after 10 minutes, drop temperature to 325f.

after 30 minutes more, take out lamb. tent with foil and let rest.

after 10 minutes more, everything is ready to serve.

16.10.15

dna vest take two

so i ripped back the dna vest to re-do the dna cable pattern.

this time, the "strands" are two stitches wide, and the "rungs" are a bit farther apart, to make them more distinct.

better, i think?

i'm also up to the point on the acorn season cardigan where i need to join the sleeves - which means i need to knit the sleeves before i can go any further!

14.10.15

new pattern in embryonic form: dna

i have convinced my crabby son to try a sweater vest, by describing it as "a sweater with no sleeves." that's an idea he could appreciate!

starting with the top-down seamless vest tutorial, i thought i'd dress it up with a cable or something - and then got the idea that my science-minded kid might appreciate some dna!

(this may be the closest i get to anything cronenberg-inspired.)

so far, i am not super excited with how it's taking shape, so i'm going to rip back and re-work with strands 2 sts wide instead of 1. some other changes too. think i'll make it narrower.

luckily, it is going pretty quickly, so i am certain i will have it done in time for the event for which it is intended - a memorial service at the end of the month, outdoors (in a heated tent), north of montreal.

10.10.15

oaks and acorns

the pastry for the pumpkin pies is resting, the toffee sauce for the sticky toffee pudding is made, the pumpkins have been roasted, all that's left is some stirring, assembly, and baking.

and knitting.

i started both of these at the cottage, but only just finished the little oak hoodie this week! needed to get it done in time to give at thanksgiving, and before the baby outgrows it!

i wanted to get this one done in time too, but i think i'm out of luck. i lost the pattern i originally drew up, and then had to recreate it. today, of all days, i found the original pattern! sigh.

here are some finished acorns:

and a squirrel taking shape!

12.9.15

paddington: a hat for mrs brown

a hat for mrs brown is complete!

and the weather to match seems to have arrived at the same time.

at first i wasn't sure what to do once i'd gathered it in at the top. i needed a little button - preferably to match?

then i had an idea for something just the right size.

a few stitches to hold it in place...

and voila! yarn covered "button" i didn't need to leave the house to find.

tadah! (remember, i'm a knitter, not a photographer.)

here is the pdf of the pattern. enjoy!

21.8.15

brambles: something quick and easy for a change

once in a while, i like to take on a project i can actually complete in under 5 years, just for that feeling of accomplishment. so, last week i made this brambles hat (pattern also available from knitty) and this week i cast on fingerless mitts to go with.

the hat i got done in a day - mitts are taking a bit longer since i am making them up as i go along! had one misfire, but take two is looking quite nice.
brambles mitts
1 ball cascade 220 heathers, 2.75mm dpns, 3.5mm dpns (most people would use larger needles - these are what i used to get gauge for the hat)
using smaller needles, cast on 36 stitches using long-tail or other stretchy cast on.
row 1: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1
repeat for 30 rows.
switch to larger needles, arrrange stitches so you have 13 on needle 1, 12 on needle 2, and 11 on needle 3, and begin hand shaping.
row 1: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1 (this is the back of the hand, and will become the brambles chart), k11 (the palm of the hand)
row 2: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, m1, k11, m1
row 3: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k13
row 4: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, m1, k13, m1
row 5: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k15
row 6: p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k3, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, m1, k15, m1
row 7: work brambles chart row 11 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k17
row 8: work brambles chart row 12 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, m1, k17, m1
row 9: work brambles chart row 13 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 10: work brambles chart row 14 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 11: work brambles chart row 15 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 12: work brambles chart row 16 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 13: work brambles chart row 17 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 14: work brambles chart row 18 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 15: work brambles chart row 19 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
start thumb shaping:
row 16: work brambles chart row 20 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, (right hand: k1, m1, k4, m1, k14) (left hand: k14, m1, k4, m1, k1)
row 17: work brambles chart row 21 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k21
row 18: work brambles chart row 22 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k21
row 19: work brambles chart row 23 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k21
row 20: work brambles chart row 24 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, (right hand: k1, m1, k6, m1, k14) (left hand: k14, m1, k6, m1, k1)
row 21: work brambles chart row 13 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k23
row 22: work brambles chart row 14 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k23
row 23: work brambles chart row 15 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k23
row 24: work brambles chart row 16 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, (right hand: k1, m1, k8, m1, k14) (left hand: k14, m1, k8, m1, k1)
row 25: work brambles chart row 17 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k25
row 26: work brambles chart row 18 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, (right hand: k1, move 10 sts to holder, co 4, k14) (left hand: k14, move 10 sts to holder, co 4, k1)
row 27: work brambles chart row 19 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 28: work brambles chart row 16 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 29: work brambles chart row 17 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 30: work brambles chart row 18 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
row 31: work brambles chart row 19 across back of hand, working the cable at each side, k19
switch to smaller needles, and finish in 8 rows of ribbing as follows:
p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1, k2, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1
bind off using stretchy stitch of your choice, break yarn.
for thumb:
with larger needles, pick up 10 sts from holder, 4 sts along co edge, and 1 st at each end of co edge: 16 sts.
work 4 rows stockinette.
work 8 rows k1, p1 ribbing.
bind off using stretchy stitch of your choice, break yarn.
run in all ends.

20.8.15

to catch a thief: the plot thickens!

well, hooray for the toothpick protocol, because it made me aware of a very nearly fatal error.

i decided to mark out the paisles going down the front of the sweater, just to make sure i am getting them properly symmetrical (although, if you look at the original, it is a bit wonky - i just can't be that authentic. if you zoom in, you can see how hastily those paisles were stitched on, too). this ledt me to realise that, at some point the pullover as knit is about 24 rows longer than what i had charted! oh the fun of making things up as you go, sometimes you miss writing down a step or two.

anyway, back to the drawing board.

this is the joy of charting in exel - easy to cut and paste a few paisles into different locations, then tweak and augment them as necessary. i also noticed a shape or two at the side that i'd missed entirely, so there you go.

then i picked out the centre paisles with toothpicks again, to be doubly certain i'm getting it right for once.

it works!

also thinking - maybe i shouldn't chain around the outside of the paisley-shapes? looking at what i've done so far, i kind of prefer the un-chained ones. am i crazy? or just lazy?

i think i will decide that at the end. in any case, here is what the revised chart looks like:

it's only half a chart, since the pullover is symmetrical, with just the central column of paisles straddling both sides in an asymmetrical way.

17.8.15

to catch a thief, very slowly

remember this?

well, i'm back on it.

saturday i was feeling under the weather, so i sent the family off to parapan am goalball medal tournaments while i stayed home to rest, and futz around with this very non-portable project.

step one: finish the excel spreadsheet of the chart. print out. scribble on it.

step two: run in ends. why so many? seems not fair.

step three: duplicate stitch the individual shapes, or "paisles" as we called them when i was a kid. here's a finished one!

then i realised that if i do the chain-stitching around the edge, it is harder to count how many stitches away to start the next one. so, for now i am just doing the duplicate stitch, and leaving a long tail to chain later.

it's really slow-going. newest strategy is to "mark out" the perimeter of a given paisle with toothpicks, so i spend less time counting stitches, forgetting where i am, and then counting again.

such a tedious project! but i think i'll wear it a fair amount. wondering if i'll have the energy to do the back as well, or be lazy and just do the front. i kind of hate when designers get lazy about the backs of things though. maybe after i get through a few more, i'll get a knack for it and think it is easy?

my go-to source for dupe-stitch tips and tricks - watermellish - seems to have gone into permament hibernation. what other websites are good for duplicate-stitch?

16.8.15

what i did on my summer vacation day seven: a fond farewell

our final day, in between packing and cleaning, i had to finish up the raft.

there were just a few finishing touches to add - a hitching ring:

and a ladder:

then away we go! we loaded on the anchors, paddled out 50 feet, and dropped anchor. then rested in the sun, while the kid swam back and forth to the dock a few times.

so nice to look out from the cottage and see our raft floating in the sun!

15.8.15

what i did on my summer vacation day six: afloat!

on saturday we were threatened with rain, so decided to try to get as much done as possible on the raft before the deluge, and then go in to the fair in the late afternoon after the skies cleared.

there was a lot of hammering to do...

but fortunately i had help! my strong kid is pretty proficient with a hammer.

one of the things on the list for this day was to buy chain for the anchors. i had looked at chain on previous shopping trips, but wondered - how much to get? prices ranged from 69¢ to $2.29 a foot, so if i bought 100 feet of chain, that could add up to a lot of money. so, i measured out 50 feet of rope, brought a ball of yarn with a sinker tied on one end, and swam out to see how deep it was.

holding on to the length of rope (to measure distance) and ball of yarn (to measure depth) was a bit futzy, and i instinctively reached for the ground with my foot.

guess what? i touched bottom.

lake depth 50 feet from shore: about five feet. i don't know why in the world i thought it might be deep enough to require a hundred feet of chain, but i am very glad i measured before buying! i ended up getting two 10-foot lengths - one to connect the anchors, one to loop through it and connect to opposite sides of the raft. this way, the chains stay well under the raft, so no worries about banging one's feet in the water.

then it was off to the fenelon fair to see how we had done, eat mini doughnuts, and send the kid on some rides.

there were ribbons!

the ghostbusters costume won a $25 fabricland gift certficate! just in time for me to start this year's hallowe'en costume!

and, who'da thunk? my sorry little cukes took first place!

helps that no one else entered pickling cucumbers. whew.

we topped the evening off with a final open-fire dinner (sausage and corn), and a trip to the demolition derby. not my usual fare, but we had loads of fun - and the fair at night feels much more exciting!

14.8.15

what i did on my summer vacation day five: fair entry day

friday morning is always the busiest of our cottage week - getting entries ready for the fair!

i didn't have quite as many as usual, but didn't have time to spend finishing any needlework at the cottage with a raft to build. also i was sad to see that my squirrel pattern did not include any instructions at all for the tail! that's the second time that's happened to me with cottage knitting, grr.

anyway, i did have a fairly hefty bag of stuff to take in: a ghostbusters costume, my scissors shirt (yay len's mill for giving me another snippet of the fabric!) maple leaf forever cardigan, linen middy pullover, double-leaf saroyan scarf, end of year leaf cloth, pyjamas...

and some cookies, and brownies, and (not great) jams, and really awful cucumbers:

(those aren't the world's worst cucumbers; i left the world's worst cucumbers on the vine, because they looked more like avocados.)

then it was back for lunch. having a big roast chicken for dinner on the first night was a very strategic decision; the rest of the week, lunch was salad with various leftover veg (peas and beets, here) and then topped with chicken breast. lots of protein and nutrients for the carpenter.

speaking of, frame all done! all that's left is to flip it upright into the water, nail on the top boards, and then float it out 50 feet where we'll anchor it.

13.8.15

what i did on my summer vacation day four: anchors aweigh

thursday we spent basically the entire day on the water!

first up was making the second anchor. these things weigh 200 lbs each! it may have been for the best that i didn't get enough cement to do both on tuesday, as carrying and mixing the cement was exhausting - really feeling my age and lack of exercise.

so we took a little swim break.

and relaxed in the sun with some knitting! i think i want to re-work the shaping on the mighty oaks baby cardigan, so i switched to knit one squirrel two:

then, back to work. i was a bit bummed to find that handley's is not terribly accurate with their cutting - my 8-foot cedar planks varied from 95 to 97 inches, not great for making a square frame! so i had to cut some down to size.

also bummed to find the screws that came with my L-braces were phillips head. i hate phillips, and didn't have a phillips bit for my drill, so did a lot of driving my hand. wah. between that and the cement, i was pretty sore by the end of the day.

i decided getting the outer frame together would be my goal for the day. and i achieved it!

to celebrate, we had hamburgers and corn cooked over an open fire. i love cooking over a real fire - something you can't really do in the city.

12.8.15

what i did on my summer vacation day three: movie time!

we usually make a trip up to the highland cinemas in kinmount to see a movie during our cottage week, and this year we saw pixels.

this was the kid's choice, clearly.

and the kid enjoyed it.

the grownups, on the other hand, thought the crude language and endless sexism was a bit off-putting, especially in a kids' film.

the plot was incredibly predictable. the special effects were fun (turning everything into pixels makes cg easy!) and the kid was happy to see giant pac man. but adam sandler is getting a bit old to pull off this kind of juvenile stuff. and i am so very very bored with the trite "ugly guy gets hot chick" thing. blecch. no thank you.

feh. i have many annoyed opinions on the hero genre, which this falls into. generally, the hero does absolutely nothing but sit around picking his nose or lurking in his lair until the world is almost about to end, and then he swoops in at the last possible moment and everyone thinks he is so very amazing, although in fact he (and it's pretty much always a he, isn't it) is a lazy slob until he rouses himself in the nick of time, and no doubt goes back to being a lazy slob after the credits roll. is it any wonder we have a generation of permanent adolescents, no doubt waiting for an asteroid hit so they can show off their mad skillz? stay in your basements, heroes. the rest of us are busy doing the real work of keeping the world from going to hell in a handbasket.

okay, off soapbox now!

peter dinklage was great as a badass with a badass mullet (and andrew bambridge, playing his childhood self, was also pretty amazing), and i wish we'd seen more of jane krakowski as the first lady. the others were just phoning it in for the most part, playing the version of their own selves that they usually play.

in other news, i got more cement, and did some work with a handsaw cutting a cedar 4x4 into short lengths to brace the corners of the raft frame.

and, i got started baking the best chocolate chip cookies. or at least starting the dough, which wants to rest in the fridge overnight or up to three days.

there are many steps to this recipe, but just the typical ingredients.