Containment

Earlier this past week, while M and I ate dinner one night, I looked over at an “extension” of our bar and sighed.  The extension was an old TV cart made of contact paper covered particle board from my graduate school, single days.  Liquor bottles covered the top (which could swivel!), a black plastic tool box holding M’s mandoline (for slicing not music) occupied the “VCR shelf,” and the small cabinet below was full of containers of loose tea.  The cart was ugly, and both cart and all the bottles needed to be dusted before we hosted a dinner party on Saturday.  If only I had a cabinet that I could put all the bottles in.  Then I thought, I could buy a new cabinet.  The next three evenings found M and me at three different stores, and Friday we hit pay dirt.  We bought it, M assembled it, and I filled it.  Neatness abounds.
Bar Cabinet closed
It holds a lot of stuff (the Ficus tree next to it is about 7 ft high):
Bar Cabinet open
So now even the Original Bar is not so crowded (although there are still more liquor bottles in other containment elsewhere–we are well stocked):
Original Bar
Containment is a good thing! Even for knitting projects. The funny thing is that for my three “large” WIPs, I have a matching project bag. Containment and Coordination!
Large Project Bags
On top is an Amish basket given to me by my only aunt (the Amish person is her neighbor in northern Wisconsin); it’s sitting on my Grandma Frances’s old picnic basket. To the right is a cherry blossom bag I got for my birthday; it’s from Janine King Designs. I keep my pink mohair cardi project in there, as the cherry blossoms have the same pink in their detailing. In front, the Totally Autumn throw is kept in a bag with apples on it that one of the millions of my mother’s former English students made and sold. And my newest project, Career Check (Ravelry link), a basket weave jacket by Kathy Zimmerman matches my newest bag, a Christmas gift, handmade by my friend Nancy.
Career Check and Bag from Nancy
I feel very matchy-matchy. I only hope that if I start to knit a blue sweater, I’ll be able to refrain from purchasing a matching blue project bag or basket.

With all this coordination and containment going on, M and I hope that next weekend we will have time to sit down, have a cocktail and write a blog post. Until then, it’s sobriety and knitting around here.

Yarn and Monkeys

A while ago I envied some Malabrigo yarn on Karen’s blog, Yarn is My Metier (she knows how to do the accent on the second e of metier–my code manual is somewhere, not here…). She told me not to envy the Malabrigo, she had oodles and oodles (my choice of words not hers), and would send me some: would I please choose a weight and two colors. Wowza! I picked Polar and Burgundy in a heavy worsted, and my they are pretty.
Polar Malabrigo Heavy Worsted
Burgundy Malabrigo Heavy Worsted
These are multi-plied yarns, which Karen bought when Malabrigo was switching to single ply yarns. I am glad of this, because I think the multi-ply may have more durability. But the colors are intense and lovely, and the yarn is super-soft merino. The colors in the Polar are hard to capture, a soft greened-grey. I have two skeins of each color, so now I need to think of projects! Merino and my skin get along famously well, so one color is going to be a scarf of some sort. Decisions, decisions…
In addition to the yarn, Karen also sent a dpn (or crochet hook) holder made of a very fun sock monkey print fabric from Textile Fetish.
Monkey Sock Needle Case
M’s grandmother gave me a set of Knit Picks nickel-plated sock dpns for Christmas, and they are right at home in this needle case (so much nicer than the plastic case they came in).
Monkey Sock Needle Case from Karen
Those are happy sock monkeys! I had been looking around for a cloth needle case for dpns, and I’m glad I can stop looking, because I didn’t find anything this fun and well-designed in my searches.

If for some perverse reason, you don’t like sock monkeys, than perhaps a Monkey Gland cocktail might be more to your liking.
Monkey Gland
You can read more about this “unique” cocktail at Cocktails with M.

Happy Knitting!

Yarn Therapy

I blog about my knitting because that makes me happy. I read and comment on other knitters’ blogs because that makes me happy too. If I were to go into the reasons why I wasn’t able to finish my wimple or do any sock knitting this week, why I have 100+ unread messages on my Google Reader, I would become unhappy (actually unhappier as I really wanted to finish the wimple). Therefore, we will look at yarn for future socks. Looking at sock yarn makes me happy.

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Claudia’s Hand Paints in Chocolate Cherry and Lorna’s Laces in Mother Lode.

The 80+ year old lady that asked me to knit her a pair of socks said she likes browns with reds. The Chocolate Cherry from Claudia’s Hand Painted looks the perfect choice to me. Since these socks are all about comfort and ease of wear, I intend to do a very simple 2×2 rib for the cuff and a stockinette foot.

My friend Nancy likes the socks I knit her for her birthday last year (her birthday is in July and I finished the socks in October–I’m hoping to improve on that this year). During cold weather, she wears them every week. This information led me to believe she would welcome a second pair this year. Nancy likes jewel tone colors. Lorna’s Laces in Mother Lode has the colors of amethyst, rubelite and citrine–a trifecta of jewels. Now for a pattern–stretchy but no holes (she’s a native Californian and actually gets cold during the “winter” season).

Now let’s look at sock yarn for me!
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Online Tropic Color 928 and Dream in Color Smooshy Happy Forest (#150).

I always have to have a ball of self-striping sock yarn in stash for yarn therapy emergencies. The Regia Surf I am currently knitting was my penultimate self-striping yarn, so I bought the very happy Tropic Color from Online. In August M and I will fly to Wisconsin to visit family, and this may be the yarn for air travel sock knitting.

Finally, when Simply Sock Yarn Company announced they had Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn, I had to check it out. I am a sucker for green, and Happy Forest insisted I buy it. It’s a generous 450 yd skein, so it shall be made into a magical pair of socks. I am contemplating a pattern of my own devising, which I tentatively refer to as “Mullions.” But that’s all I’m going to say about that for now. It is very smooshy yarn. The yarn was right to insist I buy it.

Well, I am feeling a little happier, and I am going to finish my wimple this week come Hell or High Water. I have only half a repeat to go. I hope this post has been therapeutic for you too. Now I shall continue my therapy with an M concocted cocktail. He hasn’t given any hints as to which cocktail he will concoct, but I’m sure it will be tasty.

May we all have a good week!

ETA:  Check out Cocktails with M to see what cocktail M concocted!   I liked it.

Blocking Tomorrow, the Mai Tai Tonight!

Life has been a social whirl this past week here at Molecular Knitting: three dinners out last week! This did not leave a lot of time for knitting but I did manage to get the Chevron Scarf off the needles. So tomorrow (Monday) evening is dedicated to blocking both it and the Aran Pocket Shawl.

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“Block me, baby!”–Chevron Scarf.
“What’s to become of us?!”–Aran Pocket Shawl.
“We’re gonna be blocked, straightened out, my YOs opened up, your welts flattened out.”–CS
“Oh, Mr. Chevron, I have such palpitations when I think of the blocking! Will you be with me and protect me, Mr. Chevron, dear?”–APS
“Look, Doll, you’re a shawl and I’m a scarf. No one wears a shawl and a scarf at the same time, not even on the pages of VK. I’ve got a date with a coffee-colored, wide wale corduroy pea coat. We’re kismet. We’re destiny. We coordinate. You need to find yourself a nice shell or blouse in a nice navy blue or plum.”–CS
“Oh, dear! Oh, dear!”–APS

While my handknits prepared for blocking, M whipped up the quintessential Tiki drink: the Mai Tai.

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M as usual did a stupendous job on the bartending front, however, I was not fond of the Mai Tai. It was very sweet, and the orgeat (almond) syrup was over-powering in my opinion. M liked it better, considering it the “ultimate” Tiki drink, but agreed with me that the Mojito and Hemingway Daiquiri were tastier. I guess they can’t all be winners. We’ll just have to try again next weekend!

I hope all of you had a great weekend!

Catching Up

I feel I am falling behind in my blogging responsibilities, so let’s play catch up.

First up, the pink braided cable rib sock is almost to the toe! It looks a little goofy in the photo below as the instep needle did not care to be photogenic today.

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Astute readers will notice that I stopped doing the cabling once I finished the gusset decreases. This braided cable doesn’t stretch out as flat as a simple cable, and I thought for comfort, switching to the rib was a good idea. It was a compromise between not wanting to have the cabling only on the leg, but also wanting a comfortable sock. I think it will work for me.

Next up we have an very disappointed chevron scarf posing (but not willingly) on the couch-o-meter. The scarf rather clashes with the threadbare ruby red couch cushions, and it resents be photographed thusly. But it is one couch cushion long! As I want a short scarf, it won’t even make it to a full two cushions before the bind off. I plan to knit to about 44 inches (2 couch cushions=48+ inches) and then block.

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She better not take my FO picture with me lying on this %#^&*@# couch!–Chevron Scarf.

Third up has no picture, but I am teaching myself to carry and tension the yarn differently. My way of carrying the yarn is becoming more and more awkward and annoying. It is hard to get an even tension without constantly dropping and picking up the yarn again, and my tension gets looser and looser the faster I knit. So, I am trying to finish my current projects in the old method while training myself in the new method behind the scenes so to speak.

Finally, the chevron scarf did not grow any longer than one couch cushion today for two reasons. The first is that I have a new baking pan for uber-cool individual bundt cakes. I tried it out today on Amaretto Cakes from a Buttercup Bakes at Home by Jennifer Appel. The pan worked! It was so cool!

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Fleur-de-Lis, Bavarian, and Cathedral little bundt cakes!

The second reason for lack of chevron scarf progress this afternoon: a Hemingway Daiquiri:

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Not your frozen limeade daiquiri by a long shot

I had two such daiquiris today, but since M used my calcium-fortified grapefruit juice, I built strong bones while I drank. BTW, the recipe M used is from the book and a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis. M enjoyed the book immensely.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Cable Hooks

First and foremost I would like to thank everyone who commented so positively on the pocketless Aran Pocket Shawl. Bonus points to JayJay and Abby for noticing the APS channeling Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Right now, the APS is enjoying a little lie-in to calm her poor nerves before the blocking process. She listened to me tell M about the blocking, and she may have overheard the word “severe.” I was in fact saying that the blocking wouldn’t have to be severe, but she was already gasping and jumping to conclusions, and so I don’t think she understood.

Monday and Tuesday evenings the little pink sock and I spent some quality time together. I cable using a cable needle, and although I may try to go without at some point, it’s not going to be while knitting a sock on size one dpns. But even my shortest size 1 dpn was being bothersome as a cable needle. Then I remembered that Mom always cables with a cable hook not a cable needle. I thought I had some from a multi-pack of cabling tools I bought many moons ago. I went to check and found two.

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Which to choose? Which to choose?

One was gargantuan, and the other a good enough fit to go with my size 1 dpns (one shown for scale). I don’t want to think about using a cable hook as big as the one on the left. How monstrous would that cable need to be to make that hook feasible? The little cable hook was the answer for me and the little pink sock. I just slide the stitches on the short end, drop it down in front or swing it over the back and it is completely out of the way of all the dpns. Then to knit off the cable hook, I just slide the stitches to the long end and knit them.

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Easy peasy!

Even with the cable hook, this is a slow sock to knit. There is cabling every other row, and I want at least a 7.5 inch leg. I’m on 4-row repeat 13; I think 16-17 will give me the length I want.

Wednesday evening I spent re-swatching for the Brocade Jacket. As you can imagine, re-swatching is not fun, and the end results were not happy. I have visited my guru Elsie, she of no blog who can knit and read simultaneously, complicated patterns and difficult books. I need to try her advice (she was completely unsurprised by my difficulties), and then I’ll report.

In closing here are some yarns that also want to become cable-rib socks with their own unique cable-rib patterns. They are also trying to sneak a sip of the sophisticated, yet very tasty, Suburban cocktail M made for me.

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Black Bunny Fibers in Aquamarine, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Gypsy Rose and Fearless Fibers Superwash Merino in Midnight Passion (oo-la-la!).

ETA: The Suburban recipe through the link uses bourbon for the whiskey. M used rye. I’d go for the rye; the bourbon will be way too sweet.

How I Spent My Sunday

Lately, I have been in a sweater slump, so much so that I read with alarm Sheepish Annie’s post in which she mentions the dreaded “I Started a Blog and Now I Can’t Seem to Knit Sweaters Anymore” Curse. All my sweater issues can be summed up by that one horrendous word gauge. I have a jacket on the needles, that I swatched for last autumn, and I seem to have gauge. I got side-tracked for awhile with the Landscape Shawl and the Aran Pocket Shawl and the pink and periwinkle sweater swatches. But, the Landscape Shawl is done, the Aran Pocket Shawl moves along steadily as TV knitting, and the pink and periwinkles sweaters remain swatches and ideas for now. So, maybe it would be OK to really work on this jacket. Maybe I won’t have a tremendous gauge disappointment. I did a little appeasement for the Gauge Goddess this afternoon.

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Why yes, that is a 10 lb. chocolate bar. M bought it.

M really did buy the 10 lb. chocolate bar the last time we shopped at Trader Joe’s. It was only $20, and he couldn’t pass up the bargain. The jacket pattern is from Knitter’s recent book of jacket patterns, and this one is by Jean Frost, who writes nice patterns with good fit and detailing. It is a good style for a bosc pear like me. Not too huge, but not too fitted either; neither too long, nor too short. And I like knit/purl brocade patterns. They are interesting without creating bulk like cables or holes like lace. The yarn is Cascade 220, a personal favorite, and I love the shade of blue–neither too dark nor too light. It’s all just right. Or, it could be all just right, if I keep gauge.

I had trouble reading the chart for the brocade pattern. This caused me much shame, especially when I broke down and wrote out the chart as knitting text.

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Then I realized that I could read the chart well enough to transcribe it to text, so it was only during the knitting that I kept screwing up. After far more puzzling than should have been necessary, I realized that I am most used to reading knitting charts for socks knit in the round where every chart row is read right to left. Or, I’ve knit from charts where the backside row is “in pattern” with the right side row, so the chart is pretty much superfluous for the WS rows. But with this brocade pattern, every row is different, and the wrong side rows were from left to right. Arghh! I have now accepted that I needed to write out the pattern, and that that is OK. So now it’s all up to Mistress Gauge being kind.

I really spent most of the afternoon working on a manuscript for work and rewriting much of the statistical analyses. FUN! FUN! FUN! Therefore, I cajoled M into making me a new cocktail as soon as it was a reasonable cocktail hour.

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The Emerald Cocktail made with Bushmills 10 year Irish Whiskey

The recipe for the Emerald comes from Esquire Drinks by David Wondrich; it is a Manhattan made with Irish whiskey instead of rye and orange bitters instead of Angostura. I would call it yummylicious, but if I call it that in my blog, and then M reads it, he will never ever make me another cocktail as long as we both shall live. So, instead I will say that it was quite smooth and good, not as brawny as a rye Manhattan, but still rather sophisticated. Wondrich describes it as “delightfully smooth and mellow,” and I quite agree.

Perhaps if the chocolate was not to Mistress Gauge’s liking, the cocktail was.

Cheers!