January 30, 2009

Blue Person

blue person

This little guy came to Maudie from Taiwan, from her school pen pal, along with a Chinese New Year card, carefully hand-lettered in English. The girl made him, using Chinese knots and that cute little head, and aptly named him Blue Person. Isn't he nifty?

I've finished my Just Enough Ruffles and have started a baby blanket. Enjoy the weekend!

January 21, 2009

Less Knitting, More Pudding

No knitting progress of any kind. I am poised to begin the short row section of Just Enough Ruffles (ravelled here), but because I don't understand how short rows work, I'm a little afraid. I've done them before, but I can't yet do them from memory. I love what they do -- it seems like magic to watch that lovely curve take shape.

Instead, I've decided it's officially a cooking day. I was going through my recipes and found this at the bottom of the pile. As a child, I remember eating a lot of pudding - mostly chocolate and vanilla. My grandparents used to pour milk directly onto the pudding in their bowls, which seemed completely gross at the time, but now seems quaint and homey.

This pudding makes a lovely lemon custard with a cake-y top. It comes from a family friend - a knitter of beautiful afghans who I always thought was very glamorous because she wore false eyelashes, several perfumes at once, and a frosted fall.

Trudi's Lemon Pudding

2 eggs
1 C milk
4-6 T fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
4 T flour
1 C sugar (I use about a half cup extra)
1/4 t. salt

Separate eggs. Beat whites in a bowl to stiff peaks. In another bowl, beat all other ingredients together. Fold in egg whites.

Spray 4 ramekins with a light cooking spray and fill. Bake in a 9x13 water bath at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes 4-5 individual puddings.


January 15, 2009

This Knitter's Hubris

When I was growing up, my mom worked at a knit shop in HP, Granny's. Granny's was owned by a woman named Rochelle. I can't quite remember, but either her married name was also Rochelle (making her Rochelle Rochelle), or she was married to a man named Sheldon, thus making them a couple with a gimmick: Shelly and Shelly!!!

Rochelle was a great knitter, and although she was a dedicated smoker and allowed others to smoke in her shop, we will forgive her because it was the '70s. Anyway, Rochelle always said "knitting is ripping and ripping is knitting," when consoling tearful knitters faced with massive corrective frogging. As an adult, and a knitter with a more than a few years behind me, I completely understand the wisdom and up-by-the-bootstraps practicality of this statement.

I only wish that Rochelle had had a similar maxim regarding swatching, because that would really come in handy, for oh, say, every single project I ever do. The thing is, I almost never swatch. And if I do, I frequently fudge the gauge a little because I don't want to do another swatch. Bad, I know.

One way I've tried to get around this is by using the exact yarn that the pattern calls for, desperately hoping that my gauge will match that listed on the pattern. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I also tend to use fall-back yarns, like Cascade 220, which I know I'll never ever have to swatch.

This practice, along with my attendant hubris, came into play this past week when I made the Birthday Cowl. While I have admired numerous cowls on Ravelry, I've only ever knit one other cowl. Why I don't know. It's the perfect little project -- highly portable, quickly finished, practical and wearable. Living as I do in drafty house built in 1893, I could wear a cowl all day every day from October - April. After looking at scores of beautiful Birthday Cowls, I cast on with some gorgeous Cashmere Island Heather gave me last Christmas.

I followed the pattern to the letter, blithely assuming that 1) Cashmere Island is a worsted weight yarn (since I long ago misplaced the ball band), and 2) the gauge on the size 8 needle would therefore be perfect. The pattern is genius; it's easily memorized and only two rows. Once you get just a little tired of the lace round, you get to knit one round, and then it's time for more lace. The end result with the diagonals and yarn-overs is really to die for.

Cashmere Island, as I now know, is a DK weight yarn. Hmm. I love my cowl, and I'm wearing my cowl, but my cowl is big. Not crazy big, but a little droopy, and not snug up to my neck and chin like I wanted it to be. I can't stop thinking about what would have happened if I had only used a 7 needle. If I had only swatched. I guess I could use a funky little pin to make it snug, but that isn't really the way I pictured this cowl.

Will I rip and re-knit the cowl? No, despite Rochelle's maxim. Have I resolved to "get with the program," as my dad would say, and swatch every project from now on? Probably not. Am I getting there? Maybe.

January 8, 2009

While I was gone

This is what's happened:

Collage 1
Collage 2Picnik collage 1

Both Charlie and Maudie turned 12; she started junior high. Shockingly, junior high is now considered 'fun', probably because they all have personal phones and are available by text and IM 24/7.

My mom got sick, and then she got better.

I happily reconnected with an old friend, thanks to Jane.

Snuffy went from a 38 lb. weakling to a 55 lb. stud. (Also, he got neutered.)

We drove to Chicago, to Boston and to Florida.

My cousin was ordained as a minister.

I took a quilting class. Quilting is okay; there is a lot of ironing, which is also okay. I experienced a lot of junior high home-ec class sewing machine anxiety. For me, junior high was not fun.

For Christmas, I baked cookies, knitted mittens, juiced a lot of oranges and received a new iron.

There was knitting, and planning knitting projects, although I was completely silent.

Now I'm back.

Peace to everyone in 2009!