Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I can't win either way

I was all ready yesterday to post, but for some reason Blogger would not let me post pictures. Of course, I am able to post pictures today . . . but the main gist of the post I drafted up for yesterday was that I don't really have any good pictures to post! I can't win.

Anyway, the reason why I don't have very good pictures at the moment is because my knitting is quite disorganized. Some of it is at school and some of it is at home, scattered around my apartment. And I am very rarely at home on weekdays when there's proper light for taking pictures; I usually get home well after dark. Eventually I'll get everything in order, but until then, I can only post about something I did over the weekend:

Chicken pot pie.

Yes, I know that this is not "real" chicken pot pie, but 1) I'm terrible at making pie crust; and 2) the recipe called for biscuits to be dropped on top, anyway. The recipe came out quite well; it made for 8 servings (the picture as you see it has two servings removed; one for me, and one for GPG), and I ended up freezing three servings as leftovers because GPG liked the pot pie so much that he ate half of it. (This is why I only occasionally cook for me and GPG together: lots of effort for fewer meals. The pot pie would have been 8 meals for just me alone. Throw GPG in, and it's only 1.5 meals.)

I got the recipe out of Cook's Illustrated's The Best Light Recipe, and as usual, it came out perfectly. I haven't yet made a single thing out of this cookbook that turned out badly. The folks at Cook's Illustrated really know what they're doing; if you ever need a cookbook, you should turn to them first.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Gruesse aus Weimar

This is a manhole cover that I discovered in Weimar, the home of Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt, and a variety of other important people in German and cultural history. I like how even functional things in Germany are made with an eye toward form.

ETA: GPG was kind enough to run this photo through a few tricks in Photoshop, so the picture looks much better now. I've added the spruced-up photo so you can compare the difference.

Spruced up:

The original:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Armwarmers may be a dorky thing to knit, but I knit 'em anyway. I have a walk of about 15 minutes to get to school, and clothes that may be comfortably warm for just standing around, driving somewhere, or studying at school are way too warm for the actual walk. So I wanted something to keep my arms warm that I could wear with a lighter shirt. I can take them off when I get to school.

I knit these while I was in Germany, but have only now gotten around to getting pictures taken and posted. I am quite happy with how they turned out and am ready to put them into use. Unfortunately, it was a little bit too chilly this morning for me to wear the armwarmers as planned, but I hope tomorrow's weather will be more cooperative.

This is my first self-designed project where I actually swatched and thought long and hard about gauge and fit, and I'm very pleased with this first effort. I had actually wanted to use some of the cable designs from Eunny's Bayerische Socks, and swatched accordingly, but eventually I realized that those cables were too complicated for what I actually wanted and could design. The armwarmers increase from just 40 sts in circumference at the wrist to 88 sts in circumference at the top of the arm, and I'm not yet experienced enough to figure out how to integrate increases seamlessly into such an intricate cable pattern.

So I decided on a very simple 6-st cable, flanked by a P2, K2, P2 rib on either side. Basically, after working the cuff in K2, P2 rib for 12 rounds, I started cabling every 9 rounds and increasing two sts every 6 rounds. The increases aren't so beautiful, but they also aren't totally ugly, either. GPG says they look "organic." I say that GPG is a smooth operator when it comes to commenting on my knits!

Anyway, you can sort of see how I worked the increases in the armwarmer on the right. It's not a great picture, but it's what I have:

I probably didn't need to increase so much, since the armwarmers are just a little loose at the top, but I ultimately increased to a point where the ribbing and pattern looked okay. (For example, I didn't want to stop increasing and start working towards the bind-off with an odd number of stitches for the K2, P2 cuff.) And anyway, the lower parts of the armwarmers are sufficiently snug that they'll stay up on my arms.

They're kind of like Wonder Woman's gauntlets, aren't they? I feel vaguely super-hero-ish when wearing them.

Pattern: My own!
Yarn: Louet Gems Opal in an eggplant purple. Another selection from the stash, although this one is only about a year old. Does that qualify as stash or just a recent purchase? I'm not sure where to draw the line there.
Needles: US 5 Brittany Birch DPNs
Recipient: Me!

Stay tuned to find out (hopefully soon) what I did with the leftover Opal!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Houston Marathon/Half-Marathon

Two Sundays ago, GPG and I ran, respectively, the Houston Marathon and Half-Marathon. For two schlubs who hadn't really trained a lick, I think we did very well. I'm actually very proud of GPG, who ran the full marathon with a cold he picked up in Germany, having only run about 14 miles for the longest practice run before the actual race. Just think what he could do if he trained up properly!

Unfortunately, I was suffering from jet lag from the trip to Germany, so I slept very poorly the night before. I also have developed a very skewed sense of temperature since moving away from Wisconsin, so here I am at the breakfast table, more tired than I'm letting on, and wearing way too much clothing:

When we showed up to the race, most people were wearing shorts and t-shirts or tank tops. I was wearing this long-sleeve shirt and leggings, proper for the forecast . . . that never materialized. It ended up being too warm for such clothes. Oh, well.

Here I am after my half marathon, quite sweaty and pretty worn-out:

I did okay, finishing in 2:07, but I was significantly slower than the first time I ran a half. But I don't think I had a bad showing for not really training at all.

GPG, though, did very well, although his "before" picture doesn't really look like it:

We ate Nutella on toast before the race: the breakfast of champions.

The Houston Marathon provides computers for families and friends to track the progress of runners. So I kept an eye on how GPG was doing, and I walked out a little bit when I thought he might be getting close to the finish line. I found him close to the end, in downtown Houston:

I ran with him the rest of the way, and he had a really strong pace going. I could barely keep up with him! So I think he ran a terrific race. Here he is at the finish line:

And here he is, cleaned up a bit, with his Finisher t-shirt on:

He looks very good having just run 26.2 miles, doesn't he? I'm very proud of him.

But I think I have only now just recovered from my own race. I actually didn't run after the half for five days, partly because of the bad weather in Austin, and partly because once school started I got very busy. But I ran 3 miles just this past Saturday, and I could tell that my legs were still tired! I ran again on Monday and still didn't have my usual energy. I guess one doesn't recover as quickly when one doesn't train.

I did enjoy the race, though, and I regret that I wasn't able to train up for the full marathon this year, especially since, as GPG's t-shirt indicates, it was the 35th anniversary of the Houston Marathon. I might try for the full again next year . . . if clerking for a judge proves to be less busy than law school. We'll have to see about that!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The beret bandwagon

Yes, I admit it: I jumped on to the beret bandwagon:

But, in all honesty, I had already been thinking about a beret early last fall. I had thought that a beret might work well for GPG's sister's Christmas present, since GSister has quite a lot of hair and a hat that sat on top of her head, with some room for all the hair, would probably work better than a hat that fit closely to her head. When I started thinking about it, I realized that a beret might work for me, too, on days when it's cold enough for me to want something covering my head, but not so cold that I need my main go-to hat, a ribbed affair worked in double strands of Koigu. That hat is very thick and warm, but I often get overheated when I wear it while walking to school unless it's the Great Austin Ice-Over of '07. I wanted a warmer weather hat.

So, a beret. My experience with GSister's beret and now this one has taught me that berets are tricky little buggers. For GSister, I had originally tried making a beret out of the RYC Cashsoft DK that I ultimately used for Shedir. I used the Tam pattern in Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns. But my first attempt came out too small, and the second attempt came out too big, so I frogged and set the yarn aside until Shedir sang her siren call. I also had to try two or three different times with the Karabella Aurora 8 that I ultimately used.

For my own beret, I originally started with this pattern from the Purl Bee. On my first attempt, though, I was quite brainless and didn't check gauge (I carelessly thought, it's a hat! Doesn't really have to fit perfectly! And there's so much yarn!), and I ran out of yarn before I finished the decreases. I frogged and started again with a US4 needle. I knit up most of the hat on the second attempt before I realized that the hat was too big around and not slouchy enough for my taste.

On to the third attempt. I decided to cast on only 110 sts (the Purl Bee pattern calls for a cast-on of 128 sts) with a size 4 needle, and I knit 5" instead of 4" from the cast-on edge. I was able to follow the rest of the decrease instructions from the Purl Bee's pattern.

And voila, a beret that actually fits and has the right amount of slouch. Of course, when I tried the finished product on, I wasn't so enthused about the way the colors looked on my head. I also wasn't sure if I liked the way the hat looked. But both have grown on me, so I'm keeping it. But I'm not going to wash it until I get my hands on some more elastic thread, because I'm afraid the ribbing will stretch out like it did for GSister's.

My main complaint is that my smaller sized beret caused much pooling of the colors:

The colors knitted up very nicely in the bigger size, but pooled in this smaller size. Oh, well. I guess I can't have it all.

I'm pleased that I managed to get a good amount of slouch in this third attempt:


Pattern: The Purl Bee Beret, with mods as described above
Yarn: Koigu something. This is very old stash yarn. I think it's been in my stash for three or four years.
Needles: US4 Addi Turbos, 16" circular, and US 4 Brittany Birch DPNs
Recipient: Me!

Thanks to GPG for taking the pictures. I know it was a chore.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Yes, it iced over in Austin something awful this past week. The temperatures were quite low for central Texas and the weather was pretty rotten--so rotten, in fact, that UT canceled school for the first two days of the semester AND delayed the start of school on the third day until 11 a.m. I don't have a TV myself, but my friends who do say that the local news were basically talking about the snow days like the end of the world was approaching.

I won't deny, though, that the weather did suck. I'm sure weather like this is a piece of cake to people up north, but in a place where temperatures rarely dip below freezing, freezing rain is no fun. I had to pull out my fleece-lined pants and woollen socks, which I rarely do in Texas. On Tuesday, it even snowed a little bit:

We also had freezing rain on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The steps to my apartment got pretty well iced over, but I had cat litter to spread over them to keep them from getting too slick:

You can see where I sprinkled the litter. It's not an elegant solution, and now I have lots of cat litter tracked into my apartment, but it was better to buy a little bag of cat litter for less than $2 than to buy an enormous many-pound bag of salt. Those were basically the options I had at the grocery store.

The temperature hovered around freezing, so all the precipitation we had accumulated into big icicles:

There was ice built up on railings and tree branches over an inch thick. This is the railing outside my apartment:

Everything has thawed out by now, of course, and it's back to school, unfortunately. Although I could do without the freezing rain, I certainly didn't mind the extended holiday.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: The Wartburg

I've actually been back from Germany for about a week now, but lazily haven't gotten around to posting until now. For one thing, I was utterly exhausted from the return trip; I didn't sleep very much on the planes, so by the time we actually got home I realized that I had been awake for over 24 hours. For another, I also had some trouble recovering from jetlag (even though traveling westwards is not supposed to be as hard as traveling eastwards), so even though I was tired, I wasn't really getting the rest I needed for quite some time after we got back.

Of course, under these circumstances, the only thing to do was . . . run the Houston Half Marathon on Sunday, right?

Yes, on Sunday I ran the Houston Half Marathon. GPG ran the full marathon--after traveling back from Germany, and with a cold. I don't know how he did it. Anyway, I have some pictures from that, but I was absent-minded and brought my digital camera back to Austin, but not my USB cable. So I don't have a way to access the pictures stored in my camera! I am going back to Houston this weekend, so I can pick it up, and then I'll post pictures of both the marathon and the SNOW that we had in Austin. Yes, SNOW; the weather has been pretty rotten here in Texas this week.

But, I do have this one picture for Eye Candy Friday:

I took this picture at the Wartburg in Germany. The Wartburg is the castle where Martin Luther translated the Bible, a little while after he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg cathedral. We got to see the room where he worked, which included the whale vertebra he rested his feet on.

The castle itself was interesting, but the picture in no way conveys how cold it was on that day. It was horrendously windy and really, really cold, so GPG and I toured the castle, took some photos, and left really quickly.

More Germany pictures will probably show up for more Eye Candy Fridays!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Froehliches neues Jahr!

As they say in Germany, that is.

GPG and I will be unterwegs/underway in about ten minutes. Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy New Year. May this year be filled with wool, peace, and joy for you!