Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm still here

I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. We were on vacation in Colorado – bet you couldn’t tell that some of my recent posts were from a cabin high up in the mountains! When we came back I had scheduled myself into a frenzy of activity. I’ve taught two knitting classes and then I’ve been at a china painting “school” or seminar. I’ve finished the first half of the classes and I’ve painted this tea set. The class was a do your own thing class, with the assistance of the teacher. I wasn’t sure what to paint on the tea set and once I got advice I loved doing the painting. It will be a nice addition to my tea pot collection. Next week I will be painting Christmas ornaments – I’m looking forward to it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Working With my Circular Sock Machine

Ruth asked which I liked better – hand knitting socks or machine knitting them. Well let’s just say they are two different animals. The sock machine is challenging in its own way. Every antique sock machine has its own quirks and mine is no exception. There is a steep learning curve and it’s like the machine knows when you get cocky and think you’ve got it figured out! So I like the challenge of the machine and of course it’s faster – although I have to keep reminding myself of that whenever something goes wrong. Hand knitting socks is fun for different reasons. It’s portable, relaxing, there are more variations possible, and it’s good mindless knitting (unless you’re doing a complicated lace pattern). I love to make socks both ways.

But lately I’ve been experimenting with making something other than socks on my machine. At the sock machine conference I missed out on a class by Jenny Deters on flat knitting on the sock machine because we were out at a weaving store I think and didn’t get back in time. Anyway Jenny wrote a book called Unique Fancy Sock Patterns and I bought it at the conference. When we got back Deb showed me her way of flat knitting on the machine – it involves removing enough of the needles so that the carriage can be moved back and forth instead of around and around. In my case I can leave 48 needles in and with care I can knit back and forth. I combined the idea of hand manipulated eyelet patterns from Jenny’s book and the flat knitting and I’m trying to make a baby afghan by knitting strips that I’ll attach together. Trying is the word. It takes a lot of time to hand transfer the stitches to make the eyelet heart and I have to keep reminding myself of how long a baby afghan would take to knit by hand. But I did a dumb thing. I changed the tension between the green yarn I was using and the yellow and now the strips aren’t the same size. Duh. I’ve been trying to readjust the tension to make them the same without much success. Even though I’ve put the tension markers at the same place that they were, the tension isn’t the same. Remember what I said about every machine having its quirks. Apparently my machine is independent in the way it does the tension. Sigh.

I was going to stripe the green and yellow but maybe I’ll have to make two afghans, one green and another yellow or maybe I'll have to frog (you know rip it, rip it) the green ones and make new ones. I’m having fun figuring it out though. And I hope I’ll succeed. When I get enough strips of the same size done I’m going to drop down a stitch on the edges and latch them together. We’ll see how that goes! And then I have to figure out what I’m going to do for an edge finish. Hmmmm, how long would it take to hand knit this afghan.

Here's a picture of the non matching strips all curled up and another spread out so you can see the hearts. The strips will be about 6 inches in width and I'll need 5 of them. Maybe I'll, gasp, crochet a border around them!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer of Socks my Way

I signed up for the Summer of Socks knit along but already I've broken most of the rules. (I must admit I haven't taken the time to study the rules carefully). I've knit two pairs of machine made socks that are less than the 2 inches high required - they're shortie socks, so they don't count. And I've been working on socks that were started waaaay before the summer of socks started so they don't count either. My reason for joining was because I wanted to knit a lot of socks this summer - and the heck with the rules, I'm doing this for me and not for the prizes!

But I've finished one of a pair of socks that does count! I've shown it to you when it was in progress but it's finished now and I love it. I'll do the other one when I teach the class at Double Ewe on it. It's a pattern by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer called Toe to Cuff Lace Rib Socks. It was a joy to knit and the pattern is extremely well written. I enjoyed doing the heel flap from the bottom up (it's a toe up pattern) and it even has shaping for the ankle! The lace pattern is an easy to memorize 4 row repeat. The only beef I have with it is that it's written for worsted weight yarn and it's hard to get a worsted weight yarn with nylon in it for good wear. I have a habit of going through the toes of my socks and so I look for yarn that will take a beating. I used Brown Sheep's Nature Spun Super Wash for this one and if it wasn't for class I would have put a strand of wooly nylon in with the yarn. I'll be making this one again and maybe I'll try to figure out the math to convert it to sock yarn. Here's pictures of it on the foot and off to show how it

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Another Recipe

I've been delinquent and I haven't been keeping up with the Friday recipes! It's summer after all and there are Things to Do. So I'll share a recipe that I've made a couple of times since I had them at my china painting class. Dorothy brought them and gave us the recipe - she knew it by heart because she makes them all the time. Every time I've made them I've brought them somewhere so that we wouldn't eat them all ourselves. Really they're just small unfilled cream puffs with almond frosting on them but don't tell anyone.

Custard Buns

Bring to a boil 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), and 1 cup milk. Take it off the heat. Add 1 cup flour, mix well. Add 3 eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet (about 20 globs).

Bake 10 minutes at 425° and then 25 minutes at 350°

Frost them with almond frosting made by mixing 1 cup powdered sugar, a little soft butter, milk and 1 tsp. almond flavoring.

Yummm. They remind me of Swedish Kringle in small individual pieces. I'll have to share that recipe with you another time.