Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Are They Now? KCBW Day 3/4

Is this Day 3 because it's the third KCBW post? Or Day 4 because it's the 4th day even though I skipped one?

In any case, I am ready for Where Are They Now, because I was planning a post about this before I ever heard of this blog week dealio.  A couple of weeks ago I was in New Mexico on a family visit and also, it turned out, on a visit to some of my knitted creations.  To wit:

A ruana made with a curious fine gauge rayon chenille that I think I got from Cotton CloudsHere it is. Solid and varigated. Beautiful colors.  I was learning to do domino knitting, and based it on, I believe, a poncho design in Hoxbro's book.

AND the Nebraska state sweater, a kit from SWAK.  The perceptive among you will notice that the pattern was changed from a pullover to a cardigan, and that the Go Big Red sleeve was changed because the recipient was not a big football fan.  Yes, the buttons are little ears of corn.

Last of all, a sweater I had completely forgotten,  a cardigan based on the famous Vogue Knitting world map sweater, again, a pullover-to-cardigan conversion.  100% silk yarn dyed blue and green so as to remove country and continent borders and make it a planet, not a map.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches: KCBW Day 3

Just to show you how untidy my mind (my life?) is, I skipped KCBW Day 2 entirely and toddled on to Day 3.
Today's topic is supposed to be about how one keeps one's knitting and knitting stuff organized: yarn, needles, patterns, etc etc.  Organized? Me? Not so much.  I inspect with interest various computer and internet tools for keeping track of it all, but I always find that I'd rather spend all the organizing time necessary to these schemes doing actual knitting.

The one tool I do use is LibraryThing.  I have put all my knitting books on it, and it's been very handy in quandries such as "do I already have that book?" You can see down in the lower right portion of this page a little widget displaying random covers from said knitting library, and here's the physical bookcase they're all in. As you can tell from the photo, there is at this point a bit of overflow.  The situation could do with a little overhaul.

Sad to say, the library is the most organized part of the whole operation.  The yarn situation would give a neat freak (like my DH) the vapors.  Here, for example is the (main) yarn storage closet.  There is a very basic amount of organization in what appears to be total chaos, e.g. all the sock yarn is in one area; many of the planned projects have yarn and pattern bagged up together, but many a time I have entered the Yarn Zone in search of a particular item and either come out absolutely confounded or skunked or completely delighted by something I  discovered that I had totally forgotten about.  That's one small reward for being disorganized--one is always making delightful discoveries.

So there you have it.  My name is Ptarmigan and I am a slob.  I would feel worse about the situation if knitting were my profession and not my hobby.  But my professional stuff is curiously tidy.  Records from a previous business are stored in banker's boxes in this very closet.  Ditto the abandoned possessions of a son who has flown the nest.  Around the corner is a bookcase that contains the orderly music and dvd collections for my current water aerobics profession.  And there have been put forward various creative chaos theories that I like to justify my slobitude.  One is that apparent chaos is just another form of organization,  and another that clutter is stimulating to creativity.  So I will probably just keep knitting on, feeling a tiny bit guilty, and at odd moments frustrated (where is that purple alpaca, anyway?), but creative as all get-out.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

Welcome to National Knitting and Crochet Blog week! Sounds kind of corny, but sometimes a blogger needs a motivating elbow in the ribs, and this is a good one.  The idea is to blog every day of the week on a topic suggested by Eskimimi, the founder.  Today's subject is A Tale of Two Yarns.
Both of my yarns are from Nepal. (I'll bet that makes my post stand out in the crowd!)  Both are single ply, undyed, just as nature (or the spinner) made them.  Both are unique, rare fibers.  And one I have found very useful, while I can't for the life of me figure out what to do with the other.

Yarn One:  Aloo, made from the stems of a nettle-like plant.  The plant seems to work much like hemp--it has dozens of great uses, one of which is fiber from the stems for making fishing nets, storage bags, etc.  The yarn is very hard and strong, very resistant to breakage.

I made a sturdy market bag with most of it, and the remainder is currently becoming a cover for a stainless steel water bottle (more about that when it's a FO) bejeweled with red beads.

Yarn Two: Banana fiber, produced by a Nepali vocational school, and nothing like either the aloo (except in color) or the bright "banana silk" you see when you search the interwebs.  It's soft, both to touch and with weak tensile strength.  It couldn't be a shopping bag.

I think its destiny lies perhaps in the dyepot, and after that as a scarf.  Any ideas?  Suggestions?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baking Cakes in Anchorage

I've a backlog of stuff to post, but first, this:
The book for book group last night was Baking Cakes in Kigali, and I made the above goodies to celebrate it.  The big cakes are "Death by Lemon" and "Chocolate Roadhouse Cake", both  recipes from At Home with the Range Cafe, available from the web site of said cafe.  By the way, if you are ever in New Mexico, have at least one meal there--they have other great stuff besides dessert.

Death by Lemon is a very lemony custard in a shortbread crust.  More of a pie than a cake, really, but if you taste it you won't quibble for long.  And the Roadhouse cake is mayonnaise-based, so moist and tender doesn't begin to describe it.  I had thought the quantity of cake was a bit excessive for the small group, but after everybody went home there weren't all that many leftovers to clean up--sometimes excess is just right!

Cupcakes are basic vanilla and vanilla buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They are in the colorful spirit of Angel Tungaraza, the heroine of the book.  And also in the spirit of having something vegan cake-y for the Grandboy, for whom butter, eggs, and cream are allergy anathema.  His cake aesthetic also happens to align very well with Angel's.