Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Farmers' Market

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday morning is go to the farmers' market. Claremont's is a small one, only spanning the length of one block, but there's a good variety of fruits and vegetables.

There are even a few artists that sell their work. Jewelry, pottery, photography, handmade soap, etc.

I especially love these little ceramic jars. They're so delicate and beautifully made. The little figurines on the lids add a touch of whimsy. I always admire them and yet I don't own one. Someday. Part of the problem is choosing which one I want to bring home with me. I just can't choose only one.

This is how I spent my morning. I'm glad I went early. We've been having very hot weather. Yesterday it was 104.

The market always inspires me to buy vegetables I usually don't buy and to try to use the ones I do in new ways. Today I bought figs. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet. I bought stuff for salads too, but the figs were the unique ingredient of the day.

After the market, I went to a local cafe for coffee and a pain au chocolate.

The recipe for a perfect Sunday morning.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Interview with Jeff

I had seen this interview a long time ago on a couple of blogs I read. I always wanted to do it and now I'm finally getting around to it.

Me: What is your favorite thing about my knitting?
Jeff: That it gives you a creative, constructive hobby.

Me: What is your least favorite thing about my knitting?
Jeff: That it distracts from other things you could be doing.

Me: What is something I have knitted that you recall as being good?
Jeff: My gray sweater.

Me: Do you think knitters have an expensive hobby?
Jeff: No. An expensive hobby would be like collecting cars, racing motorcycles or golf. I think men have more expensive hobbies. Knitting isn't a cheap hobby, but it's not expensive. It's average.

Me: Do you have any hobbies?
Jeff: Yes

Me: What are your hobbies?
Jeff: Running and watching NFL Football on TV.

Me: If we compared money spent on hobbies, who would win?
Jeff: What does winning mean? Spending less money or spending more?
Me: Who spends more?
Jeff: I think mine are more expensive.

(Let me explain, because you're probably wondering how just how expensive running and watching football can be, right? Jeff is a serious runner. He runs 2-3 marathons a year. He buys new shoes every two months and we travel to other cities for marathons, so he's figuring in these costs.

As for football, we have NFL Sunday Ticket which is a service Direct TV offers which gives you access to every football game being played each week. He's also in three fantasy football leagues and traveled twice this year for two of the drafts.

I think we're probably even when you factor in my expenses at Stitches. But I'm glad he doesn't think so. wink)

Me: Has my knitting in public ever embarrassed you?
Jeff: No

Me: Do you know my favorite kind of yarn?
Jeff: No. I know that you don't like synthetics, but I don't know what your favorite type of yarn is. I don't even know if you have one. I thought it depended on what you were going make with it.

Me: Can you name another blog?
Jeff: Brooklyn Tweed. And then there's also the Yarn Harlot.

Me: Do you mind that I want to check out yarn stores everywhere we go?
Jeff: No.

Me: Do you understand the importance of a swatch?
Jeff: No.

Me: Do you read my blog?
Jeff: Yes

Me: Have you ever left a comment?
Jeff: Yes

Me: Do you think the house would be cleaner if I didn’t knit?
Jeff: Yes

Me: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
Jeff: I'm happy that you have a hobby that you enjoy. I'm glad that you're into your thing and it makes you happy.

Jeff: What is the importance of a swatch? Is that what you knit first when you start a FO?

And with that, I'm off to explain the importance of swatching and what a FO is.....

Friday, August 28, 2009


Project: Princess Mitts
Yarn: Blue Sky Melange
Needles: Size 5 dpns
Start: 8/27/09
Finish: 8/28/09

I finished these by 2 pm today. Here I thought I would be weaving in the ends in the parking lot before I went into the restaurant. I finished in plenty of time. You can't see the cablework in the picture very well. If you squint you can see it. Kind of. I was very happy with how these came out. They are so soft. I almost didn't want to give them away. The good news is that I can always make myself a pair. :)

My friend loved them. I thought I would get home with plenty of time to post this, but here it is almost midnight. Just in the nick of time.

I'm off to bed now. What will I knit tomorrow? Oh yeah. The soakers. I have to finish them so that I can move on to something more exciting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One down...

I decided at the last minute to knit a birthday gift for my friend Lynda, because I'm crazy like that. I thought about what I could actually finish in two days. Fingerless gloves might work. Since I've made several pair of Fetchings, I didn't want to make those. I wanted something different. I've been wanting to make Evangeline for a long time, but because the arms or so long, I was worried I wouldn't finish. They're almost like a pair of socks without the toe and heel. And I'm not very fast at making socks.

So after some stash diving, and then getting distracted by lovely stash that I haven't visited with in awhile, I came up with this.

I found some Blue Skye Melange in this pretty blue, and the Princess Mitts pattern which are about the same size as the Fetchings and, therefore, possible to finish before I leave the house tomorrow at 6pm for Lynda's birthday dinner.

Status: one down.

One to go. It's going to be tight, but I think I can do it. I'm going to call it a night and get up early so the knitting can continue.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So close

I'm so close to finishing my soakers do-over. I thought I would finish them today at my knitting group, but no go. Now I have to put them on the back burner until Saturday.

I've decided to knit a last minute gift for a birthday dinner I'm going to Friday. This Friday. You know what I'll be doing for the next two days. Can she do it? More details to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good Customer Service Still Exists

I know I didn't talk much about Stitches this year. Probably because I had not been blogging much at the time, and then it seemed too late. But one thing I did want to share was the awesome customer service I received from two of the vendors there.

Vendor #1

ImagiKnit (San Francisco)- I was looking for some Malabrigo Chunky in pink to make another Dumpling Bag for my friend Brooke who is a very fun and full-of-life preteen. The ImagiKnit booth had a lot of Malabrigo. I quickly zoned in on a skein of Shocking Pink, but it was in worsted weight. I asked one of the people working the booth if they had it in chunky. He looked, but didn't find any. Now this is where I would expect him to say " I'm sorry, but we must have sold out." Instead, he said, "We probably have some at the store. Let me call and check. If we have it, we can bring it for you tomorrow." And that's just what they did. In the craziness of the market, they went out of their way to get me one skein of Malabrigo Chunky in Shocking Pink. A perfect example that good customer service is alive and well in today's world.

Vendor #2

Purlescence Yarns (Sunnyvale, CA)- My mom offered to buy me a sweater's worth of yarn as an early birthday present. Since using the Dream in Color Classy in the Baby Tulip Cardigans, I had really wanted to make something for myself with this yarn. The color Chinatown Apple was calling my name. Both Webs and Purlescence carried Dream in Color at their booths. Purlescence had more of the Chinatown Apple. As I was looking through the skeins trying to match them the best that I could, one of the employees came up to me and offered to open them from the wrapped skein so that I could compare the colors more accurately. She stood there with her arms out while I opened the skeins and draped them around her arms. I opened every skein they had and picked the ones that matched the closest. Did I mention that this was Saturday afternoon? The busiest day of the market.

I have not yet had the pleasure to visit these two stores. But after the great customer service I received from them at Stitches, I will definitely visit them when I'm in their area and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to friends.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coffee cake, anyone?

Today was a pretty low key day. I took this Sour Cream Coffee Cake over to my friend Ann's house for a visit this morning. It's a Barefoot Contessa recipe. Ina never disappoints. I'm a huge fan. I'm convinced we would be the best of friends if we only knew each other.

In the afternoon my dad came over and we worked in the garden for a little while. Three of the tomato plants had fallen over, so we had to put stakes in the ground to give them more support. We also tied up some limbs that were lying on the ground. More tomatoes are becoming ripe! We picked two today. I wish I had taken a picture of the one I sent home with my dad. I bet it weighs 2 lbs.! Close anyway.

Jeff is home this week on vacation, although he's studying for an exam he needs to take for work. At least we get to spend some extra time together. :)

More to come tomorrow...

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I am not a crocheter. I remember when I was little, our neighbor who lived across the street taught me how to do the chain stitch, but I think that was it. I remember sitting on the curb, chaining away until I had the longest chain ever. I don't know why she didn't teach me more. As you can imagine, the chain stitch lost it's appeal and I eventually moved on to weaving potholders with a loom kit. Remember those?

I guess fiber arts has always been in my blood even though it didn't really take hold until I was in my early twenties. My grandmother crocheted an afghan for me when I was a preteen. I still have that blanket, and even though it's made with acrylic yarn and the colors have faded, I cherish it to this day.

This summer my knitting group deciced that this would be the "Summer of Crochet." I thought it would be the perfect time to start Babette, which I have slowly been collecting the yarn for the past two years. This is what I have so far. I started out strong and then my crochet mojo (much like my knitting mojo) fizzled. It's okay though. This blanket is intended for my future daughter who we are adopting from China. We're in for a long wait, so I have plenty of time to finish .

I was going for very girlie colors that are bright and cheery. I think it's going to be very pretty. I wonder if I finish it sooner it will make our wait shorter. One can only hope, right?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Like Waiting for Water to Boil

Actually, it's been worse.

I planted a HUGE crop of heirloom tomatoes this year. Twenty-five plants to be exact. And none of them are ripe yet, except for the yellow cherry tomatoes.

I know I went overboard, but there is a reason for it. I purchased ten different kinds of seeds and I wanted at least one of each. I wasn't sure how many of the seeds would germinate, so I planted four of each kind. Out of forty seeds, thirty-five grew. I gave ten away, which left me with twenty-five. So I have my own little tomato factory growing.

I feel like I've been more than patient, but to be honest, my patience is wearing thin. I want ripe tomatoes. Now. Today I saw a glimmer of hope. See that tomato on the left above? There's a hint of redness. A promise of something good to come. That's a mighty big tomater there.

And then I saw this one:

It's even closer to being ready. I see caprese salads, marinara sauce and stuffed tomatoes in my future. I didn't walk away from the garden completely empty handed.

Still, it's all about the tomatoes for me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tips on Gauge

Let's face it. We can all use some extra help when it comes to the subject of "gauge" in regards to our knitting. It remains an illusive pursuit for many of us. Even when we think we've got it, it can turn on us and stab us in the back. I've read interviews and blogs of veteran knitters who lament on the subject.

There are many factors that effect gauge. Needle size. Yarn choice. Pattern (ribbing, cables or colorwork vs. stockinette). Flat vs. circular. Whether you're at the beginning of a project or in the middle. Knitting in the waiting room of your dentist's office right before you get a root canal versus knitting under a cabana with a tropical ocean view and a pretty drink with an umbrella in it sitting next to you. I could go on and on. You get the picture.

Swatching is an essential part of our knitting. Without it we're knitting blind. We don't know how things will turn out. Heh. We don't know how things will turn out when we do swatch sometimes, but we stand a better chance of getting results that we'll be happy with. I know of knitters who never swatch, those who swatch depending on the project and a few who swatch religiously. Me? I'm a half-assed swatcher. I rarely knit up an entire 4" swatch. Usually, I'll knit half of it and then measure my stitches per inch. It works. Sometimes.

A few months ago I heard two interesting tips on gauge on podcasts that I listen to.

The first one was on the KnitPicks Podcast. It was an interview with a designer. Sorry to say that I can't remember who. I went back and listened to a couple of episodes that I thought it might have been in, but I couldn't find it. Have you ever tried to get gauge and one needle size was too big and then you go down a needle size and it was too small? You feel like Goldilocks. Well. This designer suggested trying one of each size on interchangeable needles. So you would have a size 7 on one end and a size 6 on the other. Brilliant! The gauge should be in the middle of the two. I haven't tried it yet. I could have with Bella's top, but I think I was in such a hurry to get it done that it didn't even cross my mind.

The second tip was on the Knitmore Girls Podcast. They were interviewig designer Cheryl Oberle (episode 51). Cheryl talked anout the "30 stitch gauge swatch" which was developed in a knitting group she belonged to.. She always casts on at least 30 stitches. She then measures the entire width of the swatch. If you cast on more than 30 stitches, you wa,t to measure the width of only 30 stitches. If you change one needle size, the width will change exactly 1/2". This works for all yarn weights from chunky to lace and all stitch patters. She taught this in a class at a yarn store and one of the employees was skeptical, so she tested it in every weight of yarn and reported that it worked. Interesting, no?

Swatching to get gauge will only enhance our knitting by producing more better fitting garments. I'm looking forward to trying out these tips on my next project. And I plan to work on being a better swatcher. I love that I've been knitting for 20 (!) years now and there are still plenty of techniques for me to learn or improve.

How about you? Do you have any special gauge tips to share?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In a funk

Dear Blog,

I apologize for abandoning you the way I have. It's been not one, not two, but three months since my last post! How could that be? Where did the time go? Please know that even though I haven't been giving you the attention you deserve, I do think about you often. Daily even. I'll read, hear or see something that I want to share with you. But then I don't. The only thing I can attribute such behaviour to is that I feel like I've been in a funk lately. You know the kind, where you're going through the motions but your heart not into any of it? Well, it's time to take some steps to snap myself out of it. And I promise to do better.

You probably won't believe me, but I have been knitting. I just haven't been very excited about any of it. My most recent FO is the Karys top, which I made for my friend Bella's 5th birthday. It looks adorable on her. But then, everything does. She's too cute.

Project: Karys
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cotton dk, color 13038 (hot pink)
Needles: KnitPicks Options US 5
Start Date: July 14, 2009
Finish Date: August 1, 2009

Mods: Since I used a different yarn, I had trouble getting gauge, so I did a little math and made some adjustments to get as close to the size I wanted as possible. I was getting 5 stitches per inch, instead of 5.5, so I cast on 76 stitches instead of 84. When it came to the width of the garment, I followed the instructions for the smaller size. For length, I followed the pattern.

Finished pattern size:
15 1/4” across the bottom
12” across the mid-section
5 1/2” across the top, shoulder to shoulder
17” long

My finished size:
16” across the bottom
10 3/4” across the mid-section
8 3/4” across the top, shoulder to shoulder
17 1/4” long

The size isn't exactly like the pattern suggests, but it fits! So I'm not bothered by it. The one thing that does bother me is the sleeve situation. I didn't count how many stitches I had picked up on the first sleeve. I thought there couldn't be that big of a difference. Wrong! I picked up a lot more for the second sleeve, resulting in a more ruffled version than its counterpart. sigh Lesson learned. Count how many stitches you pick up so that you have two matching sleeves!

Here's another picture, since my model shots of Bella were washed out by light.

I also made a pair of soakers for a friend who is using cloth diapers on her baby. Alas, they were too small, so I'm reknitting them in a bigger size. Here's a pic of the first version.

In an effort to get my blogging mojo back, I'm going to experiment. Back in May, Clara Parkes posted on her blog everyday. I remember thinking that this is what I need to do in order to make blogging more of a habit. So I'm going to do it. From now until September 30th, I will blog everyday to make up for the lack of attention that I've given you. There, I said it. (yikes) Of course, I don't knit fast enough for it to be all about knitting. But I will try to include as much knitting related content as I can.

So. Until tomorrow....

Edited to add a title to this post. See. I'm rusty.