Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thursday Tab- Derek, Pattern Catalog Doll 1979


We're heading out the door, and will be gone for a few days. I'll post if I can (and I'll upload the Thursday Tab before we go), but don't be surprised if you don't hear from me until Saturday.

I finished my first pair of Twisted Fiberarts socks- these were knitted in the Karma colorway, and I love them, the colorway, and the yarn base. It's extremely soft and squooshy, and it knit like a dream. The pattern is an easy waffle texture (K 2 P 2 for 2 rnds, K 4 rnds- works with any multiple of 4 sts), and the colors are fantastic.

I got another hank of the rainbow dyed Shetland (from Winderwood Farms) spun and plied. This is 1.4 ozs and 77 yds, 3-ply. It looks like sportweight, but I think it's going to knit like worsted. I have 1 more section to spin. I'll end up with around 220 yds- enough for a pair of mittens I think.

And the handspun Firefly gloves are done! I love how they came out- the yarn was right, it needed to be gloves. This is an original pattern, destined to be a Freebie Friday (maybe next week), and it should fit most adult women (and older youths). The only tweak I am going to make to the pattern is to reduce the number of sts in the thumb and gusset- it's a tad loose. I'm just going to reduce it by 2 sts, and I'll adjust the pattern. I am not tearing out all of the fingers to reknit the thumb gusset- I can live with these as they are, happily. Oh, and I ran out of yarn in the first ball with 1" of the thumb left, and had to wind the 2nd ball. Just like running out of bobbin thread on the last seam.

Catch all y'all on the flip.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jam Yesterday, and Jam Tomorrow

... and whaddayaknow, jam today too...

16 pints of: raspberry, rhubarb (I waffled about the color, but opted for natural, rather than food-dye pink), kiwi, and kwibarppleberry (a mix of the leftover fruit, plus some apple juice). The Diabetic in the house doesn't eat jam anyway, and I will only taste a bit at lunch today, and the rest will be gifted, so I made it the usual way, though I had to scrounge for enough sugar to finish that last batch.

There is something so beautiful about the jewel colors of bubbling jam.

What? It's not always about the wool here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tour de Fleece

...and so the Tour ends (don't know who won the bicycle portion, since I'm not particularly interested in bicycles). I don't think there were *winners* in the le Tour de Fleece, but it was fun. I added up what I spun and was amazed. I ended up spinning 27 ozs of rovings (mostly from my stash- though one braid was only in my stash for one day before becoming yarn), and 1568 yds of 2-3 ply yarn! If they'd all been the same color/blend/breed/size, I would have enough for at least a child-size sweater.

As it is, I spun enough yarn for several pairs of socks, a slew of hats, and at least one pair of gloves. I couldn't show 281 yds of the yarn because that was spun for a book project deadline, but the rest all showed up here, including today's 1.5 ozs of 3-ply Shetland, which clocked in at 72 yards. The yarn is a lot softer than I expected it to be, though it'll never be next-to-skin in any place where the skin might care if the yarn is coarse (my hands and feet don't care, nor does my head). This rainbow dyed yarn is coming out very pretty, and I'm enjoying spinning it.

I also spun a little sample of Twisted Fiberarts Ravelry (Lively- superwash merino)- it came in at 11 yds of 3-ply, and a fraction of an ounce. (and having that sample to spin means that my large Twisted order came in. Such lovely yarns- I'll post pics tomorrow). I'm putting all of the little samples, along with leftover handspun, in a bag, to make some sort of patchwork project eventually. Maybe entrelac socks. If I ever learn how to do entrelac.

And the gloves are almost done- just 3 fingers and a thumb left to knit. I'm going to run out of yarn from the first hank, and will have to wind the other (oh noes...), which is sort of the knitting equivalent of running out of bobbin thread with one seam left to sew. I love how this yarn is knitting up- the stripes are roughly matching even though I didn't try to spin striping yarn, or knit matching gloves. They'll be soft and warm and gorgeous when done.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

She Who Must Be Obeyed

"But, mittens are nice too," I said. I did not add that mittens are much easier to knit. I did say, "I've never knitted gloves from handspun yarn before."

"Doesn't matter, Miz Hotshot Book Writer. Besides which, you have another braid of the exact same roving, plus a skein of yarn in the same colorway, so you can knit mittens up the wazoo if that's what you really want."

"No need to be crude," I said, frowning.

"I'm not being crude. I'm just being emphatic."

"... emphatic," I said, not quite convinced.

"Gloves. I want to be gloves."

Damn stubborn yarn anyway.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tour de Fleece

I think the actual Tour ends tomorrow (this is how little I care about bicycle racing- I joined the tour for the spinning, not the racing, and I have no idea who is winning on 2 wheels, or the actual timetable). The part that matters to me, the spinning part, ends tomorrow as well, though certainly my spinning won't end. I'll just continue on with pretty much the amount I've been spinning for the last several months (from 8-10pm most evenings). I'll have to add up what I've spun during the Tour, but I think it'll be at least 23 ozs and well over 1000 yds of yarn (a few of the skeins were much heavier, so that pulled the average down).

Yesterday before I left for the movie, I plied the last of the Firefly 2-ply from Twisted, and ended up with 328 yds and 3.9 ozs, plenty enough lovely tweedy striped yarn for the gloves that this yarn is insisting that it wants to be (and Right Now!). And last night I started a rainbow colored Shetland roving from Winderwood Farms. I've never spun Shetland before- it's an entirely different experience from all the Merino I've been spinning. It'll make a much more coarse yarn, but lovely all the same. I intend to 3-ply this yarn, and eventually I'll spin some plain brown shetland roving that I have on hand, plus the bag of white/tan/brown Shetland I got from Shunklies, and I'll do something Fair Isle with it, which is only proper. However, I doubt I'll cut un-reinforced steeks in it, no matter how proper that is.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Movie is Out there

Okay, the critics are likely going to rip this one to shreds, and I don't think that the plot will hold up to very close scrutiny- but I sat there for 140 minutes, in the dark with three other people (not going to be a blockbuster in Aberdeen,SD, I don't think) with a silly ass grin on my face the whole time.

The years show on Mulder and Scully (perhaps not so much on Skinner, but we only see him for a cameo's worth of time so it was hard to tell), and that's only right because the story begins long after the series ended, with Scully a doctor in a Catholic hospital, and Mulder a hairy recluse in a rural farmhouse. Both are pulled, reluctantly, back to the FBI to help, or perhaps debunk, a psychic pedophile ex-priest (Billy Connolly, in a great performance, with just the right amount of defiant creepiness), as he tromps through a lot of snow, in search of a missing female agent.

But that's not important. What's important is that Chris Carter and the cast stepped back into that universe as though they'd never been gone. Everything I wanted in an extended X-Files episode was there- the interplay between Mulder and Scully, each one's quest for answers (his in the paranormal, hers in science, neither one getting the answer they thought they wanted), the theme song (oh how I've missed the theme song). And yeah, a little smoochy.

The movie doesn't rank up there with the great episodes- it wasn't Small Potatoes, or Post Modern Prometheus, or Jose Chung's From Outer Space. It wasn't even Rain King. But it was good. The story was entertaining, and there was just exactly enough of the right kind of exposition seamlessly woven into the the story line (the what the hell have they been doing the last 6 years? stuff)And I enjoyed every minute of it (okay, maybe the snow chases could have been cut a bit, but really, they were okay too). The final M/S scene was touching, and just right- for the movie and for the characters, leaving plenty of room for more stories (please).

Tomorrow, I'll read reviews bemoaning plot points that don't make sense, wailing about the absence of The Cigarette Man, The Lone Rangers or Krycek, or any of the recurring characters (except that bit of Skinner), and that infernal conspiracy, and maybe they'll even be right (at least a little bit), but I won't care. For awhile today, I was back with a couple of my favorite people in one of my favorite universes, and that was enough.

The Yarn is Out There

Sorry, I'm a little X-Filiated today. I'm going to see I Want to Believe, and I Want To See it badly enough that I'm willing to drive 100 miles for the joy of Mulder and Scully, all angsty and tensiony and whiskery (just Mulder) and pouty (both of them) and spooky, and maybe a little smoochy, again. My expectations are low- I just want a new X-Files episode, and some popcorn out of the deal (oooohhhhh..... popcorn.... it's been a long time). So I suspect I'll enjoy myself.

In the meantime, I finished another ribbed handspun hat. This one was knit from lumpy bumpy yarn I spun a couple of months ago. It came out well, and I have enough yarn to knit another hat, though I'll probably use a different pattern (no fun in making them identical). This one goes in the Christmas Pile with the rest.

And I plied 2 ozs of Twisted Firefly Merino yarn. This is 154 yds, and I have about that much left to ply. The yarn came out beautifully- you can't tell it in the hank, but it will stripe, though not in any regular fashion. I have a sinking feeling that this is going to end up as gloves. It'll be gorgeous as gloves, with each finger a different color, or color combo, and the gloves not at all matching as far as stripes. In fact I can't wait to cast on. But gloves are a major PITB- something I always forget after I finish what I swear will be my last pair of gloves. This time around, I actually remember that I don't love knitting gloves, but I'm going to do it anyway because that's the way I roll.

I'll be back tonight with a movie review.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Twisted Time is Here

(I'll run out of *twist* puns before I run out of Twisted yarn and roving)... Anyhoo... I finished the first sock from Twisted's Karma colorway, and it could not have turned out better. I love love love this yarn, and I love love love the mutating variegate. And the gentle waffle texture plays off the colors very well. I started the sock in the middle of a dark band, which will make finding that exact spot to cast on the mate a little tougher, but I'll give it a shot. It would be very cool if somehow the 2nd sock also divided the color band right at the heel the way the first one did. The colors in the scan from yesterday's post are more true to the yarn.

And I finished another hat. I've had this handspun yarn in the wool room forever. I don't know the wool breed- it's bouncy and medium soft, and I have a vague memory of spinning it from the lock (which would account for the thick and thin-ness of the yarn). I may even have spun it in the grease. I do know that the pink band at the edge of the cuff was some single that I had on hand that I just plied it with the rest of the white yarn. I rather like the look. This hat was knit like yesterday's, but on size 11 needles and with 68 sts (I had to ignore the last 4 sts of the last repeat on the decrease rnds, but it came out fine anyway). It's just a bit bigger and roomier than the first hat. It will go in the Christmas pile.

I have to concentrate on a project article (not for the book) this morning, so it's back to work- but this deadline isn't terribly tight, so I will still get to play later today (and I am making myself work today because I'm going to see the X-Files movie at the matinee on Friday... Wahoo!).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

...come and waste some time...

You don't have anything better to do anyway, right?

I saw the link to this place at Mason Dixon, and had to try it. It's a little slow with the processing, but that just means that you get to waste even more time... I dare you to stop with just one.

Come on Baby, Let's Do the Twisted

Oh my- you know how when you really look forward to something, and as often as not, that *something* turns out not to be so great? That's not the case with Twisted Fiberarts' sock yarn. I dutifully waited until I finished not only my book, but 2 pairs of recreational socks that were already on the needles, before winding and casting on any Twisted. It was worth the wait. This particular yarn is Playful (superwash merino) in the Karma colorway, which is a mutating variegate, meaning that the mottled colors change gradually throughout the yarn (rather than in distinct stripes, which Twisted does as well). I left the scan big so you can see the gorgeous colors. This is wonderful yarn, and I am down to the heel of the first sock already. I'm doing my usual sock, 60 sts, 2.75mm needles, with a little waffle texture (an easy repeat of K 4 rnds, 2 rnds of K 2 P 2) thrown in for fun.

And I did a little spinning yesterday too- I started Twisted's (I'd think that I was keeping them in business all by myself, but I know that my stash is nothing compared to some) Firefly roving (this is Puffy, which is 100% superfine wool). Firefly is a combo of electric green and yellow, with charcoal, and a lighter gray that has a hint of lavender in it. Gorgeous stuff, that I am spinning fairly fine and will 2-ply. I'm not worrying about keeping stripes in this yarn (I have Firefly sock yarn coming, and a Firefly BFL roving that I will spin to keep the stripes, so this hank can be whatever it wants to be).

And I also knitted up a hat with the Rust Bucket bulky handspun yarn (roving from A Knitting Duck). I only had 100 yds of this yarn and I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough to knit a whole hat, so I put a couple of stripes of gray handspun Romney in there, but I wouldn't have had to. The hat fits me, though it's just a bit snug. It's destined for a young great niece anyway, so it's perfect for her. This is a simple ribbed stocking cap, my own pattern, but far too basic for a Freebie Friday, though I like how the ribbing follows through the decreases. FYI- that is a small styrofoam head, so the hat looks bigger than it is.
Here's the recipe: 100 yds bulky yarn, Size 10 needles- CO 72 sts, join. Work K 2 P 2 Ribbing for 8". Decrease as follows:
Rnd 1: * K 2, P 2, K 2, P 2 tog*, rep around
Rnd 2: *K 2, P 2, K 2, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 3: *K 2, P 2 tog, , K 2, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 4: *K 2, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 5: *K 2, P 1, K 2 tog, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 6: * K 2, P 1, K 1, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 7: *K 2 tog, P 1, K 1, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 8: *K 1, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 9: *K 2 tog, P 2 tog*, rep around
Rnd 10: *K 1, P 1*, rep around
Rnd 11: *K 2 tog* rep around

Cut an 8" tail, thread tail in a large-eye needle, and weave through remaining loops. Tighten and tie off, and weave the end in on the inside of the hat. Weave the other ends in on the inside of the hat. Turn the cuff up as much as desired.

For a larger size, rather than increasing the stitches (which will mess up the ribbed decreases unless you're increasing in increments of 8 sts, which would be too many for this hat, I think), I'd jump up to 10.5 needles, or even 11's, and maybe work another inch or so of ribbing before the decreases.

Last year it was fingerless mittens for everyone for Christmas, this year it may be ribbed hats. I'm starting late, they knit up quickly, there are no heels or thumbs, and you only have to knit one for each person. Sounds perfect to me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stick a Fork In Me

Not that I am ever *done* with a book- I get questions weekly about my mystery series (which ended- maybe temporarily- in '01) (and the question is, mostly, when are you going to write another one?), I get frequent questions about all of the knitting books. Hell, I get comments about paper dolls that were published in the 80's. And there is a lot of work left to do on the sock book- rewrites (there are sure to be some), copy edits, proofing, and probably more knitting. But for right now, I am done.

The last few socks were sent over a week ago, and the last of the text goes out this morning.

I am done.

Well, not totally- I have another immediate deadline (a project for a compilation book to be published by Interweave), but I have two whole weeks to write up one project. It'll seem like a holiday.

In the meantime, I finished 2 pairs of socks: the So Far Away handspun socks (BFL, 3-ply, from Yummy Yarns), which turned out beautifully. The closeup does the best job of showing the fantastic colors. And a pair of Purl When Ready (with the black chosen for purling) socks from Colinette Jitterbug yarn (which is wonderful yarn, btw).

Finally, last night I wound my first Twisted Fiberarts sock yarn- I chose Karma (in Playful- a superwash merino yarn), a mutating variegate in wonderful shades of green. And I wound the bulky Rust Bucket handspun yarn- I found some gray Romney handspun in my stash that is about the same weight (though you can see how my spinning and plying have improved) and wound it, just in case there wasn't enough Rust Bucket for a hat. I can't wait to cast on.

But first, I need to go over that chapter one more time, and get it on the way.

Then I can collapse.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Worsted That Could Happen

Okay, so I made a true worsted-weight handspun yarn yesterday (actually, it's closer to bulky than worsted), and it's squooshy and it's gorgeous (though the dye job, by A Knitting Duck, gets all that credit). But it's not lofty. And I wanted it to be lofty, and I wanted more than 100 yds out of 3.9 ozs. I think I need a totally different fiber prep to get lofty (thick but light) yarn. I suspect it's the difference between spinning worsted and woolen- I'm spinning from roving, where all the fibers are aligned, and with my tendency to spin tight and hard (sounds like porn, doesn't it?), I just cannot get a lofty yarn.

That said, the yarn itself is gorgeous. This colorway is called Rust Bucket, and it came out even better than I envisioned. It's only 100 yds of 2-ply, so I think I'll knit some version of the Floozy hat with it (without the beads, the yarn is already heavy enough without adding a couple more ounces of glass to the mix).

I think I'll go back to thinner yarns for awhile- that's my comfort spin.

Speaking of comfort spins- I got some more roving from Twisted Fiberarts (ahead of the much larger order I placed last week). This is Firefly, a gorgeous green/gray colorway, in 100% fine wool. And the little sample is Batty, purple/green/cream (one of the colorways on my wish list for yarn). I'm getting more Firefly roving, and a skein of Firefly sock yarn, so I can spin this particular roving as a 2 or 3 ply without worrying about how the colors will come out. They'll be gorgeous no matter what.

I did spin the little Batty (superwash) sample- it came out at 9 yds of fingering weight 3-ply. I think I'll make some sort of a patchwork hat with all the little samples. A one of a kind piece. It should be pretty.

But before I do any of that, I have 1/2 of one chapter left to write (and less than a week to finish), so I'd best get to it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Skills

For better or worse, I judge every commercial yarn on whether or not it would make good socks, because socks are my default project- no matter what else I have on the needles, there is always a pair (or three) in progress somewhere around the house.

I judge every fiber the same way- whether or not it would make good sock yarn. Not just because of the whole sock-obsession thing, but also because I have this inner feeling that in order to use the fiber properly, I need to get as much yardage out of it as I can. 4 ozs can turn into 400 yds of 2-ply laceweight yarn (more, if you're a spinner who can actually get more than 100 ypo), or it can be 375 yds of 2-ply fingering weight yarn, or it can be 350 yds of nice and firm 3-ply fingering weight yarn. Or it can be 300 yds of sportweight (still enough for socks). Or, it can be 200 yds of a heavier weight 2-ply.

My default spin is a hard, tight yarn with more yardage- perfect for socks. In fact, that's why I learned to spin in the first place: to make sock yarn. But I've produced a couple of squooshier, thicker yarns lately, and I've liked their look and texture. Sure, they won't work for socks, but there are other things I can knit besides socks (gasp!).

With that in mind, I spun the last two rovings deliberately larger and softer than my usual style, and I am very pleased with both.

The first was a 100% Superfine Wool roving (style: Puffy) from Twisted Fiberarts, in the Giles colorway (blues, gold, yellow, browns). I had intended to spin that wool as a 3-ply self striping for socks, but I also have a skein of Giles sock yarn that will be self-patterning socks (Twisted sells both yarn and roving, all hand dyed), so I decided just to split and spin the roving and let the colors come out as they wanted. I think the yarn will still be a tweedy stripe, but not with anything like a regular repeat. The yarn came out lovely and squooshy, and probably a sportweight (I'll knit it with size 3 or 4 needles)- it's 292 yds and 4.5ozs. It will probably end up being a hat or mittens.

The second was domestic wool (my guess: Corriedale) from A Knitting Duck, called Desert Stones (lovely shades of turquoise, tan, and charcoal). I just let the colors come out as they wanted in this yarn as well, and I spun the singles even heavier than Giles. The yarn came out beautifully squooshy (though not lofty- which I would like to manage too, though at the moment I spin too tightly for that), at probably a DK weight (size 4 needles, or maybe 5). I got 156 yds from 3.6 ozs. This will also end up being a hat or mittens (it's not enough for socks, so I can't be tempted to knit them with this yarn).

Though it still nags at me a bit to end up with so much less yardage, I am delighted to be learning another spinning skill- and I love the squooshy factor. I have another roving from A Knitting Duck, called Rusty Nail (reds, charcoal, green, tan), and I'm going to try for lofty with that- spinning and plying with less twist for a true worsted weight yarn. We'll see how it comes out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Freebie Friday- A Beaded Floozy Hat

Finally! A Freebie Friday pattern. I probably won't ever get back to having a pattern ready every week, but I will post them as I have them ready, and always on Fridays.

This hat, as mentioned in the post earlier this week, was knit with yarn from Twisted Fiberart's Big Yarn Club. The yarn itself is exclusive to the club (which is closed now), and is not available anywhere- Meg dyed it in a style called Evolutions, in which the color changes gradually throughout the skein. The yarn is called Buxom, it's 100% Organic Merino (amazingly, wonderfully soft), and a Bulky weight. The colorway is Floozy, with rose, brown, green, and blue. The ball was 90 yards, and this hat used all but 5' of the yarn.

This hat, with the simple lace pattern, knit on size 10.5 needles, fits me with the cuff rolled as shown. But it fits my 7 year old granddaughter with the cuff rolled up more. It's pretty much one-size-fits-all.

I used my own handmade lampwork beads, but any commercial beads (glass or otherwise) that are about the size of Pony Beads, will work for this hat. Or you can omit the beads altogether.

I haven't tried this pattern with other yarns, but I assume it will work okay with other bulky yarns: Noro Iro, Lamb's Pride Bulky, Knit Picks Cadena, your own bulky handspun. Give it a shot, and send me pics. I'll post them here.

Click on the 2 pages to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program. As with all of my original patterns posted here, you may make as many as you like, you may donate them to charity, you may even sell them (if you're a single knitter, not a company or a factory). Please do not repost the pages elsewhere, or print them to hand out to people. Do, please, direct people here to download and print them themselves. Thank you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Simon's Cat

A new installment, reminding me again why I do not have cats...

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Doll- Dana Simplicity 1997

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tip-toed through the Tulip

I am so happy with this yarn- it's soft and squooshy and beautiful. The colors blend and swirl, and depending on what I knit with it, it may even stripe a bit. Twisted Fiberarts wool/silk blend (called Festive) is a dream to spin- it drafted easily and was perfectly dyed and prepped. The Tulip colorway of orange/peach/pink/rose is lovely, and I ended up with a total of 375 yds of 2-ply yarn (from 4 ozs of roving). As I said yesterday, I don't want to make socks with this yarn (well, I do want to knit socks with it- I want to knit socks with every yarn) because I'd have to knit it very tightly for it to be durable at all, and knitting it tightly would waste the squoosh. But I could knit gloves with the larger size 2 needles, or a lace-ish scarf with even bigger needles, and that would use the yarn to its best advantage, I think.
Here are before and after pics, though the real after would be after it's knit.

This was spun for the Tour de Fleece challenge (and for my own enjoyment), and I already have 2 bobbins of Twisted's Giles colorway (Puffy- 100% superfine wool) ready to ply. I may or may not get to that today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I am done knitting socks for the book (for the moment, at least), and since my granddaughter is visiting, I do my computer/text/writing work either early in the morning or late in the evening (until that last crunch, when it'll be nonstop). That leaves a large chunk of my day when I can theoretically knit whatever I want.

What I want to knit is some Twisted Fiberarts socks (despite this yarn's rarity, I've managed to acquire 7 skeins, and have 3 more coming), and I want to start 2 stranded sweaters for myself (Alice Starmore's Oregon in Knit Picks Palette- the new heathered colors work perfectly; and my handspun stranded sweater, which has a chart almost ready to go).

But what I am actually doing is finishing up 2 pairs of socks that I already started: the So Far Away socks (spun with roving from Yummy Yarns) which are almost 3/4 finished, and a pair of Colinette Jitterbug socks that have been on the needles since February; and an original stranded sweater that I began last November (before the book contract offer came through) which may end up being my first *for sale* pattern. I may not get the stranded sweater totally done, but I'm going to make some visible progress, and the socks will be finished before I even wind any more yarn.

Aren't you impressed with my steely resolve in the face of irrisistible yarn urges? I know I am. Or I would be if I wasn't going to blow knitting off altogether, and go swimming instead.

Healthy Recipe- Stir Fry Chicken

You can actually throw any veggies you like into a dish like this without changing the calories or carbs very much, but I'll list the ones I used. Stir Fry Sauce mixes vary in calories and carbs, so check your packet if you're calculating this out for yourself. If you're not watching the carbs as tightly as we are, you can also add a small serving of rice, or chow mein noodles (the noodles are lower in carbs, the rice is lower in calories). This pot serves 4 and they're generous servings.

Stir Fry Chicken

3 Chicken Breasts, sliced into small strips or cubes

1 cup broccoli, cut up

1 cup slivered carrots (I bought them that way, you can slice as you like)

1 bunch green onions, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 1/2 cup bean sprouts (fresh if you can get them, 1 drained can otherwise)

1 can water chestnuts drained (check the labels- brands vary widely in calories and carbs)

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 packet Stir Fry Sauce made up as directed (I used Kikkoman's)

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp Olive Oil

With the flame or burner turned on high, heat the oil in a large pot, add the garlic and stir until you can smell the garlic and your stomach starts to rumble. Add the chicken and stir for 4 minutes. Add each remaining ingredient at 30-60 second intervals (whenever the mixture heats up to sizzling again) in this order: broccoli, carrots, canned bean sprouts (if you're using canned), water chestnuts, bell pepper, zucchini, onion, fresh bean sprouts (if you're using fresh), mushrooms. Add the mixed sauce and stir for 1 more minute. Serve.

Serves 4

Calories: 360 Carbs: 19gr

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tip-toe Through the Tulip

As part of my Tour de Fleece challenge, I am spinning Twisted Fiberarts rovings (at least until I run out-I have 3 more on the way but they may not arrive before the bicyclists finish). Last night, I plied 2 bobbins of Twisted's Tulip Festive. Festive is a Merino/Silk combo that is beyond gorgeous. Tulip is a colorway with orange, peach, rose and pink.

Though the colors are bright, there isn't a lot of contrast between the shades, so I didn't even try to keep them separate. I just spun them up medium-fine and 2-plied the yarn. It came out very well indeed- the colors blend and swirl and may knit up with vague stripes anyway. This hank is 2 ozs exactly and 178 yds. The yarn is a medium fingering weight, and incredibly light and squooshy (unusual for my handspun yarns, which are usually sturdy and dense). This yarn would have to be knit at a very tight gauge for socks, and that would waste the squooshiness, so it will probably end up as gloves or a scarf.

I have one more Tulip bobbin to spin, and ply. I will buy more of this blend, that's for sure.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Adding Beads with a Crochet Hook

For Karen, and anyone else who is curious- here's how you add beads to knitting with a crochet hook, rather than stringing them on in advance. This article talks about both methods- scroll down to "Hooking Beads As You Go*, to find good directions and clear drawings.

It's super simple and it'll have you wanting to add beads to everything. The hardest part is finding a hook small enough to go through the centers of the glass beads (which are notoriously inconsistent in their hole diameter)- I use a teeny little hook that was my mother's. It's a metal Size 10 (it's old and current sizes may be calibrated differently), and even that one won't go through all beads, and it's so small that it sometimes takes more than 1 try to get all of the plies pulled through. The effect is worth the effort though.

A Floozy With a Heart of Gold

There was plenty of joy in knitting socks for my book during the last 8 months, but not much spontaneous joy- none of that *see the yarn, get an idea, dig out the needles, and finish it in an evening* stuff when you're working on new sock designs 7 days a week. But I'm done designing socks for the book right now (lots of word-work left to do, but no knitting), so when a yarn speaks to me, I can listen.

And I listened to Floozy when she arrived yesterday. This is the yarn from Twisted Fiber Arts Big Yarn Club (see yesterday's post for the stats), and Floozy told me that she wanted to be a hat, but not just a plain hat. A hat with lace and beads. My own amateur lampwork beads (the beads were added with a crochet hook at the exact stitch where they're needed, not strung on the yarn in advance.)

Didn't she turn out beautifully? The ball was 90 yards of pure organic Merino luxury, and this hat used all but about 5' of the yarn. I used size 10.5 (6.5mm) needles and 70 sts, and lots and lots of beads, which I just happened to have in perfectly coordinating colors (was I psychic 2 years ago when I was obsessed with torchwork?). You know how some yarns look better in the ball or skein than they do knitted up? Floozy isn't one of those- she was gorgeous in the ball, but the full beauty of the gradually mutating colors didn't show until the hat was in progress. I tried to get some good stitch shots so you can see the full range of colors.

The hat is long for me, so I will wear it with the cuff folded (what- you thought I was going to give Floozy away? Not on your life. I will probably buy a coat just to go with this hat).

And best of all- Floozy is an original pattern, a pattern that is not earmarked for some other publication. So next Friday, Floozy will be the first Freebie Pattern posted in months!

Now I'm done playing for a bit, I guess I'd better get back to compiling sock patterns into chapters, and adding notations for photos and charts and sidebars...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Twisted Fiberarts Big Yarn Club

My first installment of the Twisted Fiberarts Big Yarn Club arrived this morning, and I am so excited. The yarn is dyed in a style called Evolution (my book Yarns to Dye For has a similar style, called Graduated Color Band), where colors slowly mutate throughout the skein (not in regular repeats). The colors are fantastic- so rich and beautiful: from deep pink, through brown, through mottled greens, through blue. The colorway is called Floozy, and the yarn is Buxom, a bulky organic Merino. It's incredibly soft and gorgeous. Oh yeah, and it's an exclusive colorway, so if you're not a club member, you can't have any. neener neener.

This ball is 90 yards, and at first I was worried that I would not think of anything to knit with that amount of yarn, but I stumbled on some bulky lace hat patterns through Ravelry, and knew that was the way to go. I worked out an original chart, and I've already cast on, and am knitting a lace hat, dotted with my own lampwork beads. If the pattern comes out okay, it'll be the first Freebie Friday pattern in a long time (to be posted next Friday- you'll all know in advance, because I'll post the finished hat. If it turns out.)

So, back to the needles.

le Tour de Fleece

Though things are still crazy here (I've finished the knitting for the sock book, at least until we look things over and decide that this chapter or that chapter needs *someting else*, but I still have a lot of text to go over and an entire chapter to write. I got a 2-week extension on the deadline, and I should finish everything before the 2 weeks are up), I am still spinning in the evenings, so I joined the le Tour de Fleece- a challenge/competition to spin something from your stash every day during the tour.

Now, I care absolutely nothing about bicycle racing, but I do care about spinning, and it sounds like fun, so I'm in. There are sub-groups of spinners (teams, if you will) in the Tour, and I joined the Twisted group (for fans of Twisted Fiberarts rovings)(*obsessive about* might be a better term). I have 2 Twisted rovings on hand, and I'm hoping to score a couple more if the new pre-order opens soon (please, open soon, when I'm actually at the computer). And if I get the new rovings, they will be *in my stash*, and therefore qualify... heh...

My first Twisted roving is Tulip, which is dyed in gorgeous pinks, roses, and peaches. The fiber blend is merino and silk, and it's spinning like a dream. I have 2 bobbins filled, which I will ply tonight. The color delineation of this roving isn't sharp, so I'm not going to try to preserve the self-striping qualities. I'm just going to 2-ply it and let the colors change and develop on their own. It should end up a light fingering weight yarn.

Here's info on le Tour de Fleece: