Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend Treats

This weekend my kitchen and I had some bonding time. Dishes and treats made this weekend include: pasta salad, nectarine jam, waffles, and chocolate layer cake.

The pasta salad was your run-of-the-mill type salad. The pasta used was orzo and I tossed it with feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomato, and homemade Greek dressing.

Now let's talk jam. I work/live in a non-for-profit and we are often given expired or expiring food. These nectarines fit that description so we decided to whip up some jam.

This was the first time I used "natural pectin" by cooking tart apples and lemons. I am fairly happy with the result. The jam is definately less solid than jams I have made using store bought pectin, but not watery.

The flavor of this jam is very fresh and the color is beautiful! Yet another happy canning experience.

We'll skip over most of the waffle details since they are generally uninteresting. But this is the first time I made waffles using the recipe my mom always used from my ABC Gold Medal Flour Cookbook. The most interesting difference is beating the egg whites to stiff peak state.

Moving on to chocolate layer cake. Today is a dear friend's birthday and so I decided she must have cake. Her choice was chocolate chocolate, that is always David's choice too. Since I am a high altitude baker I picked up my copy of The Joy of Cooking to find the right recipe.

I decided on chocolate fudge cake - but I didn't make the recommend frosting. I used all of their altitude corrects except I forgot to sour my milk. I'm glad to say my forgetfulness did not make a difference.

For frosting I made your standard powdered sugar, butter, cocoa, and vanilla frosting.

I am now going to go share a piece with my friend because the work day is over, hooray! And on a side note, please send up your prayers for me tomorrow. I will be driving some and interviewing for a paralegal position that I think I really want! Thanks!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Etsy Item

Today I thought I'd share with you the latest addition to my Etsy shop. I know it seems odd to add alpaca mitts to my shop in June, but hey, it is winter somewhere, right?

I designed these mitts quite awhile back, but just recently wrote out the pattern.

I plan to offer the pattern for sale at some point this summer so you can gear up for the fall.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Featherweight Cardigan Saga

Before you ask, no. I didn't accomplish yesterday's goal to finish one mitt so we are just going to move on...

The Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig and published on knitbot. This is the beauty that I knit twice. Grab a cup of tea and sit back to hear the tale of the twice knit.

In early May I decided I would knit a white(ish) cardigan for a wedding we were attending the first weekend in June. Not only would it be cute, but it would make about three more of my "dressy" outfits more versatile.

I knew it would take awhile because it is for summer so I wanted to knit it with a finer yarn. I scouted out my local yarn shop and found some squishy merino silk mix in lace weight that was perfect for this project. I decided to get one skein since I wasn't sure how far using a double strand on size 6 needles would get me.

I followed the pattern pretty much to the letter, except for the part where you are supposed to check you gauge. I mean, I looked at it a little, but not in depth. I just kept knitting away. At one point I thought, "Sheesh, these arm holes are rather large." But when I would try it on I'd convince myself that somehow it was going to look just fine.

This knitting in uncertainty continued till the end of May. I started to realize my deadline for finishing this cardigan, it was a Thursday. I needed to pack it on the following Tuesday night so I needed to finish it by that Sunday night (so it would have time to dry from being blocked).

Because of this realization I decided I better knit fast and it looked I was going to need another skein for the last inch of the collar. So I headed over to the yarn shop.

For reasons beyond the control of the actual yarn shop owner, the people watching the shop had decided to close early. I thought no problem, I'll just come back tomorrow (Friday) and get my skein - I looked through the window to be sure it was there and it was.

Well, I had forgotten about the Pagosa Spring Fiber Festival that was starting on Friday night and going through the weekend. When I got to the shop on Friday I realized my error as quite a bit of yarn that was there the night before was taken out of the shop for the fest - including the skein I needed.

I knew that if I pulled out the entire cardigan and reknit it so that it wasn't too big I would probably have exactly enough yarn to finish it, but I thought "there is NO way I have time for that, I'm leaving in 4 days!".

What to do? I thought just maybe they yarn hadn't yet been taken to over the mountain just yet. So I got out the phone book (first time in years) and looked up the home number of my lys owner. From there I got her cell and caught her on the road.

Let's just say she is AMAZING! She stopped by my office on her way through town and we opened up every bag of yarn on her truck till we found the skein I needed! Seriously. She saved my knitting!

With my new skein in hand I was ready to finish my cardigan over the weekend. And I did! I stayed up till midnight on Sunday finishing the collar (why did I do a sewn bind off?!?!). I tried it on and didn't like it at all. It didn't fit right - the arms were way to big and it was really wide.

In my infinite wisdom I decided to check the gauge now that the project was complete. Yeah. As you wiser knitters know my row gauge was off by a few as were my stitches. Simply, I had knit about 18 too many rows for the arms.

This meant I needed to rip out the collar, the sleeves, and the body all the way back to where my sleeves should have ended. I went to bed then debating this ripping out - should I just wear it big for the wedding? Could I really re-knit it in time for the wedding? I laid there for an hour then got up and ripped it all out till about 2:30am.

Monday I knit the body. Tuesday I knit the collar. Wednesday (at the airport) I knit the arms. Thursday night I blocked it and Friday I wore it. Mission accomplished.

Now I have an entire skein left so I can knit another one or a similar cardigan and since it is white I can dye it whatever color I want! I do really like how this fits and I really like the texture of the yarn. It falls open a bit with tank tops, but over all it is a fabulous design!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spinning Distractions

I thought this might happen... I got burned out on my knitting projects. Yup - I know that seems hard to believe. I knit three pairs of baby socks in two days and re-knit an entire cardigan (double lace weight) in three and half days and that was all within a week so that has left me with three projects on needles.

The first one that is still on the needles is Juls' sweater which is coming along nicely. I put on the button bands last night so that leaves the collar and sleeves. I'm not feeling at a stand still on this projects, actually it is currently my most intriguing knit.

The second project still on the needles are some fingerless mitts that I am doing for a fabulous fiber trade. I'm knitting up a friends black and green hand spun in trade from some very nice wool. This is motivating because I am currently on a huge spinning kick, but at the same time the mitts aren't getting much attention.

Lastly, the third project that will be in continuous progress for awhile are the bridesmaid wraps/shawls I'm working on. I'll give some more details and photos on them later, but I'll just say there are five of them that need to be done by September 12th. I'm about a quarter of the way through the first one - uh yeah I need to focus a little.

So, as I mentioned I'm on a spinning kick. I have been spinning some local Colorado wool and am near that highly gratifying plying stage. The above photo is of some hand dyed super wash wool that I spun and plied by spindle - it took me awhile to get through the plying on my Navajo spindle but I did it! T

he other reason I am pretty excited about spinning right now is that I realized that my wheel savings are over the half way mark! So I feel much closer to getting my own wheel (photo link is a pretty one ganked from flickr)! Only $200 more to go!

Okay... my goal today: finish one fingerless mitt before the softball game!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dyeing Day

Thanks fam and friends for giving a little shout out - it's good to know you're still around (and the lurkers too (cough, Claire)).

At the Fiber Guild meeting in May there was a dyeing workshop of sorts. I didn't actually do any dyeing myself, but I enjoyed seeing people excited with their results and trying it for the first time.

Wanda opened up her garage and provided a lovely set up for those who brought yarn and fiber.

There were Kool-aid dyes to try as well as natural dyes such as onion skins and others. Yup, that's right, Kool-aid can dye wool (example), how does that make you feel about drinking it?

I have done quite a bit of dyeing at home, but must admit I don't have much patience for natural dyeing. I really like the idea of it, but the chemicals and various steps involved have kept me from taking it on.

Instead I use acid dyes, which use vinegar to set the dye. These are by no means completely non toxic, but they are much easier for me to use and I very much like deep colors I am able to accomplish with them.

It has been quite awhile since I have done much dyeing and this post is getting my psyched up for it again so maybe you'll get to see some new projects in the coming weeks.

Let me leave you with a delicious recipe. I recently tried a snickerdoodle muffin recipe and so far it has gotten high praise. Here's the recipe.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


So I am hoping there are still some of you out there reading this blog...hello? anyone? Leave me a little comment, let me know you're still around and what you've been up to.

Since my last post I have been doing a lot of driving, a little flying and mostly just having a good time.

In late May my volunteer unit took a trip to RMMC for our national MVS retreat. That trip mainly consisted of a lot of pinochle and euchre (if you don't know how to play either of those card games you definately need to learn!). And from there we spent an extended weekend in Boulder with friends.

Last week David and I flew to Indy, stayed with my cousin, and then drove with my folks and uncle out to Washington Boro, PA, joining up with my brother and sister-in-law part way. Let me just say that is a lot of traveling for two days of wedding festivities, but it was definately worth it.

I had a fabulous time with my family. As I have said before, that is the hardest thing about living all the way out here in Colorado, when the rest of my family is east of the Mississippi. So, trips like this are important to me.

Now we are home and things are still busy. There are a lot of visitors coming through the volunteer house and we had a new volunteer arrival the day before we left for PA. But, the next few weeks we'll be here, looking for jobs, and trying not to focus too much on our August transition.

I had better get back to sending out resumes, but there are lots of blog posts ahead... sweater story, stole making, spinning minis, family photos, some recipes and more.