October 21, 2011
Posted by Wanda J under Baking  Comments
First, a word about the duct-tape shirt form I made for Feather in the previous post. Sadly I can’t track down Charity’s blog post about when she and some friends made theirs. We flew by the seat of our pants when taping Feather and hoped for the best. Yeah, it worked. This evening I searched for Duct Tape Dress Form and came up with this terrific how-to post at Threads Magazine. There are four different approaches to making a form for yourself complete with photos. Years ago, shortly after I’d taken up weaving, I subscribed to Threads Magazine and enjoyed all the inspiring articles. I’m delighted to make its acquaintance once again.
Progress on Feather’s sweater has slowed down due to the need to spend more time practicing the violin. The local strings group I play with has taken on some new pieces: Molly on the Shore (fun!), Sonata 1 and 2 of Telemann’s Six Sonaten, and Vivaldi’s Allegro in D for Strings. And today we were handed St Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst. The timing in that piece is very tricky for me. Fortunately, my stand partner today was completely up to speed with her sight-reading abilities!
Last night I dreamed of coconut. Seriously. I woke during the night with the thought of sweet coconut scenting the house. This morning while checking Facebook a friend linked to an article on Emily Dickinson with a picture of a recipe she’d written on a piece of paper:
No instructions, only the ingredients:
1 Cup Coconut
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 teaspoonful Soda (baking)
1 teaspoonful Cream Tartar
How’s that for timing!
Understanding how cakes should be put together the batter came together quickly. The sugar and butter were blended until creamy then the 2 eggs were added and the mix well beaten to incorporate as much fluff and air as possible. The dry ingredients were measured and stirred together in a small bowl, and the milk briefly warmed.
I stirred in the flour and milk, alternating with a third of the flour mix, followed by half the milk, thoroughly mixing them in between each addition. (Mixing on slow speed to help keep the flour tender for the cake.) Last I stirred in the coconut until blended.
Judging by the amount of batter I buttered a 9×9 glass pan and put it in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. It ended up baking about 40 minutes.
Next time I’ll use a 9×11 pan so it won’t take so long to bake, this time it is a bit on the thick side causing the edges to cook more than I’d have liked. And I’ll try soaking the coconut in the milk first, just to help it become as moist as possible before baking. It’s oh so ever slightly a touch on the dry side – probably from the extended baking needed to get the center firm.
One departure from Emily’s recipe – frosting! I often don’t frost our cakes but in celebration of Feather’s fifth birthday it seemed in order, even though she’d not here to eat it. Also, on Wednesday I had sent a German Chocolate cake with Ed to serve at the community dinner the next town over and he’d longingly looked at the frosting. Coconut-Pecan frosting was a perfect additional for this not-too-sweet coconut cake!
Overall, it is easy and delicious, definitely one that will become a regular in this house.
October 18, 2011
Posted by Wanda J under Knitting  Comments
I measured young Feather and quickly cast on for a birthday gift. Knit a garment for a five year old in 22 days? Sure, plenty of time for a small item with short sleeves. Never mind that I didn’t have a proper pattern. Figure out which size needles worked well with the yarn (#4 /3.5mm, as big as reasonable for speed!), get gauge, do the math with her measurements and knit the thing as fast as possible.About this point in the process the niggling worry that I hadn’t cast on quite enough stitches across the shoulders, either that or I hadn’t made properly spaced increases. A detour to the Frog pond was necessary. Feather also let me know that she really likes purple best of all. I knew that, still, I fell hard for this exquisitely colored yarn in The Sanguine Gryphon‘s booth at Sock Summit. What’s a grandma to do? Go shopping! We’d already planned to hit up the wood store in their nearby city and so, of course, I asked if there was a yarn shop in the area. After scooping up some lovely wood for spindles we all went to the yarn shop where JJ and Wes were dazed by all the fiber, Ed talked with the store owner and MJ found some yarn she fell in love with. (Score on knowing what to knit for her birthday!). Feather and I had a harder time finding a superwash sockweight yarn with purple that would work with the mango/apricot? yarn but we managed to leave triumphant.
No way could I get far enough to be certain the shirt would fit decently while still visiting the kids and remembering a post by Charity some time ago, I persuaded Feather to let me duck-tape her to make a form.She was a good sport about it, except for the taking off of the one strip of tape that I accidentally taped to her arm. Ouch!
Originally I’d planned to make a small version of the Buttercup shirt (pictured above) but completely veered away from it once the shirt started taking shape again. I wasn’t in the mood to be chained to reading/following a lace pattern. Besides, with an October birthday a long sleeved shirt was more sensible!
These past two weeks I’ve been a knitting fool. Every spare moment has been consumed with knitting. During the knitting I’ve listened to books on Librivox: “Whose Body” by Dorothy Sayers, “Little Lord Flauntleroy” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, followed by “Pollyanna” by Eleanor H Porter – two books I’d missed growing up – and more appropriate stories to listen to when knitting for a child!
The opposite shoulder came in dandy for storing the ball of yarn used in the body while working on the sleeve. (Picture is way off on the color, the yarn is not orange though there are bits of light orange here and there in the colorway.)
One sleeve finished I began the lower portion the body feeling fairly confident that I could finish the sweater with enough time for the washing and blocking/drying to mail it on the 18th. (This pic, below, best represents the color.)
Only the body to finish, the second sleeve and some ribbing at the neck and it’d be ready for a bath.
Except. The 1×1 colorwork on the sleeve prevented it from being elastic. On closer inspection (with protesting groans in my head) the entire lower sleeve seemed too skinny. I wanted a snug fit along the arm, but with enough ease for growth. Ignoring the sleeve for the time being, I finished the body.
Hearing our six year old neighbor out playing I gathered up the shirt and ran over to ask her to try sticking her arm through the finished sleeve. It was fine until her hand encountered the cuff which was too tight. ugh
Besides by then I wasn’t thrilled with the two contrasting color bands on the upper arm followed by three rows of seed stitch in the main color which didn’t seem right for this sweater.
I’m re-knitting the sleeve with fewer decreases, different designs, ending again with the 1×1 stranded color knitting. Then on to the other sleeve, intentionally unmatched in design for this granddaughter who loves wearing unmatched socks, and then the ribbing around the neck. It won’t be made in time for Feather’s birthday but she’ll see it when we Skype on her birthday. In the meantime, I refuse to be such a slave to knitting. But it sure has been nice listening to books!
October 10, 2011
Posted by Wanda J under Uncategorized  Comments
There are over 600 pictures still needing to be sorted through, deciding which to share, which to archive for family and which to delete. The task is so overwhelming that I’ve practically ignored them since loading them to the laptop a week ago once back home from vacation.
Two years, almost to the date, found us driving east along I-84 to Idaho to visit our son and family. Sleep played hide and seek with me the night before we left and I woke dreading the 8 hour drive, but two things happened that made it a pleasure: 1) after leaving the predawn fogs of the Willamette Valley behind the weather was lovely the rest of the drive 2) Ed offered to drive for the first 2 hours! I was thrilled at the unexpected gift of being able to enjoy the scenery to my heart’s content, and knit! Long-time readers will know that Ed hates driving, especially for long distances. We ended up trading off every two hours which made for an enjoyable trip and little exhaustion or stiffness (for me anyway). Rather than write one long post I plan to break the knitting and the trip into a series of posts over the next week or so.
The project in my traveling bag has been over two years in the making. Not due to an intricate, dazzling pattern, or any superfine spinning. No, this is a project that given the right frame of mind should have been completed in a short time frame. Over two years ago I glibly agreed to a spinning exchange at the monthly spinning group: each participant brings 4 ounces of fiber from her stash in an anomynous paper bag and blindly picks another bag to take home, spin then make something for the person who’d provided the fiber, (labelled inside the stapled bag). Not sure if I heard the instructions wrong or if some people were extra generous. There was a whooping 8 ounces plus stuffed tightly inside the bag I choose. Well over four ounces of handcarded creamy yellow unknown wool that felt slightly sticky and harsh, and four ounces of handcarded grey wool with gold sparkly filaments carded throughout.
Neither color nor feel appealed to me. I had no idea how it should be spun, nor what to make with the resulting yarn. I put the bag in my stash and mostly forgot about it, except for haunting guilty moments. When the December meeting rolled around I apologized for not having it done. Everyone was very gracious and understanding. Last year, as spring rolled towards summer and I determined to spin the wool. What at first seemed to be a battle turned into a pleasure once I realized the yellow wool wanted to be spun woolen, lofty and big. Once that was sorted out the spinning fairly flew through my hands and onto the bobbins. Soon the grey wool was also spinning at a much more rapid pace than I’d thought possible. A valuable lesson: just because a color, and or feel doesn’t speak to a person while still in carded form, doesn’t mean that it’s “junk” wool which is what I’d unwittingly labelled the two wools. What I’d seriously dreaded spinning became a satisfying pleasure. After spinning the grey wool I sampled plying the two colored together deciding in favor of keeping the colors separate. Being too thick to ply easily on the wheel I got out the Navajo spindle and had a blast.
I’d wrapped two singles into a plying ball on my Bristlecone nostepinne and plyed away a few evenings. After a setting soak and hanging to dry I still didn’t know what to make with it so set it away. Another year passed.
Early September customer wrote asking if Ed could make a special tool. We were immediately intrigued, especially since I’d been wondering about something of similar fashion. Ed made the tool for her and modified my size P hook. Perfect for using with the wool while in the car!
(Action picture taken balancing the camera while in the car.)
One term that was coined is Knook: knit + hook, the process known (among other names) Knooking. Ed’s been busy again making spindles, hairpin lace looms and Tunisian Flex hooks that he hasn’t had time to make any more so we’re not quite in production mode for the knooks yet, but one of these days I hope to put some up on the website. Once I get more adept I’d like to make a short video for YouTube. The bag has been put on the back burner (once again!). Arriving at son’s house I turned my attention to making a sweater for Faith’s birthday which is just under 2 weeks away. (What am I doing updating this blog when I should be knitting!)
A glimpse ahead, Grammie making cookies with the grandchildren.