Friday, April 28, 2006

On to sock two! The knitting mojo is back.

I actually finished sock one on Wednesday night because I had so much knitting-conducive work to do at school. What is knitting-conducive work? Meetings and reading where I don't have to take notes. I especially like the latter when I have an easy project to work on and can keep myself awake while slogging through boring law articles.

Now I'm on sock two and have made it past the cuff into the regular pattern for the leg. I don't think that the second sock will get finished too quickly since finals are coming up, but we'll give it a shot. These socks, although made to fit me, might have to do for a Mother's Day present for the Chairwoman if I don't have time to make something additional for a proper gift.

And, I'm almost done with the Handknit Holidays Christmas Rose satchel I started a long time ago as a thank you gift to some friends in Germany. I've finished the fair isle part and all that's left is some decreases for the bottom of the bag. GPG is coming to visit this weekend with his digital camera, so I will hopefully have some pictures of it eventually.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sock one, almost done

I'm finally making progress with the Trekking socks in K3, P1 rib. Last night, after turning the heel, I passed the frog-point from the very first frogging and am now knitting with fresh, heretofore unknitted yarn. (I always feel so much better after passing a frog-point.) And, since I've had so much to do today for editing duties at school, I've knocked out a bunch of the foot. In fact, with the additional reading and editing meetings I have this afternoon, I might get very close to the toe.

I've been thinking about knitting in general during this whole Trekking sock saga--lots and lots of knitting gives you time to be contemplative--and I've realized that a couple of my personal proclivities manifest themselves in knitting in a fairly stark way. Namely . . .

1. Perfectionism. Every now and then, I'll let a small mistake slide, like when I've split the plies in the yarn so that there's a stray loop that hasn't been properly knit, but is instead hanging off the knitted fabric. I also know that a good friend of mine is wearing a pair of variegated-yarn socks where I accidentally slipped one stitch in a round without knitting it, so that there's a break in the variegation/striping. When I find relatively small mistakes like that after lots of knitting, I'm usually unwilling to rip/tink all the way back to fix something so minor.

But, for the most part, I have pretty perfectionist tendencies while knitting. If I make a mistake, especially one that's fairly visible (which is a debatable point between knitters and non-knitters), I'll go back and fix it. As the Trekking sock saga suggests, I have no qualms about ripping anything out if it doesn't look or fit right. Perhaps I've become a perfectionist knitter only as my knitting has improved; I don't know if I was like this as a beginner, for instance. But now, call it neurotic, call it what you will . . . I like for things to be as perfect as I can make them.

2. Willingness to work more/harder for a (debatably minimally) better result. I knit my first complete pair of socks out of Cherry Tree Hill yarn on US2 needles. There's nothing wrong with them, but they have certainly gotten loose and stretched as I've worn them. As a result, I'm knitting these Trekking socks on US1 needles for a denser, tighter, longer-lasting fabric (I would have knit them on US0 needles if I had them). Even though I probably have to knit a third or half again as much on size 1 needles as I would on size 2 needles, I'm really happy with the way the socks are shaping up, and the difference between US1 and US2 is much more perceptible to me now than before. I expect I will probably continue to knit socks on size 1 needles (or size 0 needles if I ever get them)--and I have a lot of sock stash to work through.

It's too bad that these proclivities don't really manifest themselves in other parts of my life (for instance, in my (un)willingness to tidy up my apartment). And it's also somewhat unfortunate that they get amplified in knitting, so that I spend weeks spinning my wheels on one project, knitting and re-knitting and re-re-knitting, when I could be spending that time 1) on a more useful knitting project, or 2) a more useful non-knitting project. But, it is what it is, and at least these Trekking socks look like they'll turn out okay.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cinnamon Bread!

Since I'm done with half my classes, I'll admit that I was at loose ends (a little bit) this past weekend. I studied a little bit for my upcoming copyright exams, but they're far enough away that any studying I do now won't be very effective.

So, instead of studying on Sunday, I . . . tried baking bread! Cinnamon bread, that is. And it turned out GREAT! I was so pleased with the results. Now I really have to recomend America's Test Kitchen's The Best Recipe with two big thumbs up. I was always a fan--I haven't made a single recipe from the book that hasn't turned out well, and it has so many useful recipes--but now I'm a major convert. In fact, the bread turned out so well that when I went shopping at Sam's Club later that day, I bought ATK's new The Best Light Recipe! I can't wait to try some of the recipes out of there.

Enabled by my birthday acquisition of an over thermometer and an instant-read thermometer, I was able to follow all the temperature-specific directions for baking bread perfectly (e.g., dissolve the yeast in 100-degree water; bake until 180 degrees internal temperature). The book's instructions are very clear, and I always enjoy reading the notes about how ATK arrived at this specific recipe as the best one.

I plan on making another loaf this weekend when GPG comes to visit so he can try some. Hopefully he'll bring his digital camera so I can get some pictures. In the meantime, if you're interested in a good cookbook (and a good recipe for cinnamon bread), go check out The Best Recipe. It's a great investment.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Doesn't sound quite as dramatic as "rrrrrip!," does it?

I am now on my FOURTH attempt at knitting some socks out of this Trekking yarn. But I think that I'm finally on the version that will stick.

I ripped the garter stitch sock on Saturday and started a third attempt with 72 stitches. Of course, I should have paid attention to past experience and just started a new garter stitch sock. But, I went to the bookstore on Saturday night and flipped through Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, a book I have always wanted to get but have not yet bought. The pattern for the Gentleman's Half Hose (I think) looked simple but seemed to produce an interesting fabric, so against my better judgment, I decided to try it.

And yes, the pattern is simple (Rnd 1: K1, P1; Rnds 2, 3: Knit), and it does produce a good fabric, but . . . again, the sock was too big. I only knit 15 or so rounds before I realized that it would be way too loose. Unwilling to rip again, especially since the cuff was fine, I tinked instead, which took a good part of the afternoon. Gentleman's Half Hose will have to wait for another yarn.

So now I am on my fourth attempt at these socks. I've learned from my mistakes (tinking will make sure you remember mistakes for a looong time) and am now working on a very simple, very boring, but very quick K3, P1 pattern. After so many too-loose socks, I was unwilling to try even the garter stitch rib for fear that the sock would be too big. So straight up ribbing it is. Actually, it's coming along pretty well; the variegation of the yarn, the plain pattern actually looks the best of all the attempt.

Anyway, come what may, this sock WILL GET KNIT. And maybe I will even have pictures. Eventually.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rrrrrrrip, take 2!

I haven't done it yet, but I am planning on ripping out my second attempt at the Trekking socks. I cast on more stitches and switched to the garter rib, but of course, now that I'm using a looser and less complicated pattern, the sock is too big! Sigh. I have no one to blame but myself, but I'm disappointed.

I'll admit that my knitting mojo is a bit weak at the moment. I've stalled on the Violinist's wedding present, I haven't made much progress on the "Christmas Rose" satchel from Handknit Holidays that I was knitting as a thank-you present, and now the Trekking sock has run aground.

Of course, I still need some knitting to take on the bus (otherwise I always feel like sitting on the bus doing nothing is such a big waste of time), so I'll rip out the socks and try the garter stitch rib again with just 72 stitches. I also think I'll try using my Addi Turbos, because knitting on two circulars seemed a lot faster than knitting on DPNs when I knit the first Wyvern sock ages ago (which, by the way, still has no pair). Of course, changing needles, number of stitches, etc. could lead to yet a third rip and a fourth attempt, but . . . I just hope that won't be the case.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


This morning on the bus ride to school I ripped out the cuff-down sock I had been working on. I had turned the heel already and was pretty far along doing decreases for the foot, but I was lacking my regular sock mojo. I had tried a baby cable rib, but didn't like how it looked (especially with Trekking XXL self-striping yarn), and the sock was a bit too snug because I decided to try US1 needles for the first time and didn't cast on quite enough stitches. (I know I should have swatched, but whatever. It actually fit, but I just decided I wanted something a little looser).

I cast on again with a few more stitches and will try a garter rib sock instead. That should be faster to knit than the baby cable, which was giving me fits, and should work better with the striping.

Today I turn in a paper and finish HALF of my classes for the semester. YEE HAW! All that's left is one exam on May 5 and another on May 12. Although the last month has been somewhat hellish, I'm actually looking forward to the finals season. How turned-around, upside-down is that?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The end is near; and, congratulations to the Aspiring Ecologist!

The oral argument on Tuesday didn't go so badly! I managed to keep all my sniffling to a minimum and I think I actually sounded like I knew what I was talking about. And now that the oral argument is done, the end of the semester is very, very near! I only have to write a short 5-page paper before I'll be done with HALF of my classes. Then there will be a couple of weeks before I have two final exams. I'm so close to the END!

AND . . . Congratulations to the Aspiring Ecologist, who is one BIG step closer to being a full (and not just aspiring) Ecologist! She passed all her oral and written exams at school this semester and is now, for all intents and purposes, ABD (all-but-dissertation). Yaaaay for the AE!

Knitting continues. I've stalled on the Violinist's wedding present, but I've turned the heel on a nice Trekking XXL sock and still have plenty of yarn left. I think there might be enough to make both a pair of socks and even a pair of gloves (perhaps fingerless, but still, gloves). It helps to have relatively small hands and feet.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Allergies suck.

This past weekend, I got hit with a double whammy of cold + allergies. I think I am over the cold (or whatever kind of gross sinus inflammation I had), but the allergies are persisting something fierce. I can't breathe very well; my nose is raw because I've been blowing it all day; and I'm eating antihistamines like candy.

And guess what? I have to give an oral argument in a moot court tomorrow for Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. I'm not terribly looking forward to it. "Excuse me, Your Honors . . . " *HONK* Sniffle *HONK* ". . . Where was I?"

Monday, April 03, 2006

"Knitting improves surgical dexterity."

Did anyone see Grey's Anatomy yesterday? Both Meredith and Izzie were KNITTING! I was quite pleased to see that. I wonder if it really does improve one's dexterity. Perhaps it does, but I am such a klutz in general that I am probably not a good test subject to test the hypothesis. Anyway, I'm glad to see that knitting is getting primetime exposure on Grey's Anatomy.

I took a break from school work this past weekend to have a very nice time with GPG. We made waffles with my new waffle maker on both Saturday and Sunday, and gradually we are figuring out what the best recipe is. The recipe has evolved thusly so far:

1 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 T. sugar

2 T butter, melted and cooled
1 egg yolk
1 scant cup buttermilk
1/2 t. vanilla

Whip up
1 egg white, until it holds soft peaks

Mix together the wet and dry ingredients, then fold in the whipped egg white. Voila!

Yesterday evening I also tried out a new chili recipe that I got from Probative, another law student here at UT. It was surprisingly simple to make and I brought some of the results to school today for lunch. The verdict? Probative's chili is probably the best first attempt I've ever had with a recipe! It turned out quite well and now I have a lot more to keep myself fed throughout this week. Here's what I did:

1 can black beans
and season with Pinto bean seasoning in a crock pot

1 lb ground meat (I used ground turkey)
1/4 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. chili powder

1 onion, chopped, until translucent; then
Seasoned meat

Once the meat is browned, take the pan off the heat and throw in
1 t. minced garlic

Throw the frying pan contents into the crock pot with the beans and add
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can corn

And "season the heck out of it" with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Probative suggests maintaining a 1:6 ratio of cumin and chili powder.

I let the chili cook overnight at the "Low" setting and it was ready by the morning. Yum!

Anyway, enough with the recipes. That was the weekend!