Thursday, July 24, 2008

a series of unfortunate events

Well not so much as a series as just one unfortunate event: I ran out of yarn when I was 85% of the way through the pair of Snicket Socks, way back in April.

Sarah graciously dyed up another skein of Suri Alpaca/BFL as close as she could get to the original, who's colorway name was "Bobbing for Apples". The new skein, "Not Quite Bobbing", arrived late last week, and I was able to finish the second sock yesterday.

Yes, there is a completely obvious difference in hue. And yes, the reds don't photograph the same every time. But I'm still in love. The socks are so soft, and very warm, and I can picture lounging around the house in jeans, a tee, and these socks come winter. And if I want to be super anal, I could go back and buy that pair of shoes I walked away from at the sale last week, as the toe box would hide the mishap ... Then I could wear them out and about with nary a glance.

The pattern is from the obsolete Mag Knits website, but if you're on Ravelry, you can download the PDF or save it to your Ravelry pattern library. It's a well-done pattern, and though I ran into a few hiccups, they were so little that even I could figure them out! I did make the heel modifications that I'd seen on iSeL's Snickets, and that was easy, too. But really, here's my advice: don't believe from the pattern that it will only take you 230 yards to fashion your own pair of Snickets. The pattern does state that the yardage is correspondent to a women's US 7 shoe, and I wear a 10, but it took a total of 360 yards for my pair. Most other Ravelers have used quite a bit more than the pattern suggests as well, so there's my warning to you.

These socks were my opus, until I ran out of yarn. I still really, really, really like them, but they don't quite sing the same tune they once did. I have a feeling you may see more Snickets from me. Especially ones similar to these, or these, or these...

Friday, July 18, 2008

three for three

Recently, Annika mentioned to the Man that she would like to repeat a day in San Francisco that we had in March. The first place we hit that day was Tartine, a small but well-known neighborhood bakery in the Mission District. While we were there, Annika munched on Mexican Wedding Cookies, covering herself in powdered sugar. This memory, and her wish to return to Tartine helped to decide our Cookie of the Week.

This particular recipe is from Martha Stewart's Cookies, although most of the recipes included are also available online, and you can find it here. The recipe produced a cookie with a very solid, typical taste of a Mexican Wedding Cookie; for that I was grateful, since they didn't exactly look typical. The recipe called for pressing whole, blanched almonds onto the top of the cookie, but whole, blanched nuts are something that would have been picked out by the kids, so I omitted. However, the recipe also asked one to "flatten slightly". It is obvious to me that I flattened "awholelotta". Mexican Wedding Cookies should be dome shaped.

In any case, the cookies are almost gone, which as Martha would say, is a very good thing. After all, 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of almonds is the bulk of the recipe that only yields 20 cookies. Yikes!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WIP Wednesday

... only I spent this Wednesday finishing the WIP and marking it FO.

The yarn is sKNITches Syncopation in Mint Mocha Latté, knit on size 2 dpn's, and is a mish-mash of sock patterns. The heel flap, with its garter stitch border, and the toe are from Knitting Sensational Socks by Charlene Schurch. The body of the sock is an Ann Norling pattern, Adult Basic Socks #12. Only recently did I start using the Knitting Sensational Socks toe, and I have to say, I need to investigate other patterns. I really dislike how few stitches are left to kitchener. Any suggestions?

Since a few of you have shared your summer book selections, I'm revealing a small part of the stack I have yet to read. Through the Children's Gate by Adam Gopnik, known for his book Paris to the Moon; The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, which Laurel and I take turns reading aloud; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, seems suitable for the current times; and The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which has just been languishing on the bookshelf for years...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

a duet

because two are always better than one.

I finished the second Miniature Cowichan Cardigan today, resulting in two very happy daughters with two very sweet looking dolls.

Laurel's doll, Nellie, is wearing the blue cardigan. Annika's doll, who she named Nicki, is wearing the magenta cardigan. Although Laurel has another American Girl doll, Samantha, she has said that just one cardigan is enough. Visions of themed cardigans are dancing in my head: cardigans in school colors, cardigans in holiday colors, cardigans without collars, cardigans with matching shells.

This pattern was featured in Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007 issue. I had queued the pattern over on Ravelry way back in November or December, but never really had any intention of casting on right then. When I was finally prepared to start the projects, I went back to the issue and realized that the pattern was never included in the magazine; one had to go online and download the PDF. I set out to locate it, only to find it had been removed from the site! (growl)

"web exclusive" it says there in the blue circle.
wish i had seen that earlier.

Kerstin had knit one for Olivia's American Girl, so I asked Kerstin if she still had the PDF. Thankfully, she did, and promptly e-mailed it to me. (Many others thought they had access to the PDF and tried their darnedest to no avail -- thanks to them as well.)

Both sweaters are knit in Cascade 220. The magenta was knit on size 3 needles, as suggested by the pattern. I had swatched for this first sweater, but apparently the swatch wasn't really large enough (is 4"x4" the proper size for a swatch?) and my gauge was off. While the cardigan still fit Annika's doll, the fabric created was very dense. When I cast on for Laurel's blue cardigan, I decided to use a size 4 needle. Typically, I always have to go up a size in needle anyway, so I didn't bother with a swatch. In the end, the gauge was correct with the blue cardigan knit in the size 4 needle (6.5 sts/1"), but I like the fit of the magenta cardigan on the size 3 better. Both the collar and the sleeves seem to fit the doll better.

The pattern in of itself is a very fun knit, and I think should be required knitting prior to first attempts at "people sweaters". Although maybe not written for a true beginner, the pattern, if carefully read and executed, could be knit by an early knitter. I liked this particular sleeve/body construction: the sleeves were knit in the round separately, then knit onto the body at the armhole, then decreased raglan style as the cardigan continued on up. At the finish, six armhole stitches and six bottom sleeve stitches were kitchenered together.

hello raglan decrease!

Since these are now off the WIP list and on the FO list, I can resume my sock-knitting. First I'll finish the Mint Mocha Latté socks, which are about 75% complete. Maybe by then, I'll have received the extra Bobbing for Apples Alpaca/BFL I needed, and I'll finish up the Snickets. Sarah has told me that the new yarn is a few shades darker than what I had, but you know what? I just don't care. That will be part of the story those socks will tell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


It's 107˚ today. And I'm baking cookies. I question the sanity of this, too, but I made a promise, and I always aim to please.

Cookie of the Week -- week two

Milk Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

1 c unsalted butter, softened :: 2/3 c granulated sugar :: 2/3 c brown sugar :: 2 eggs :: 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract :: 2 c all-purpose flour :: 1 tsp baking soda :: 1/2 tsp salt :: 2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips :: 1-1/2 c macadamia nuts, roughly chopped.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Stir in chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Mound in 2 Tbsp. portions onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 350˚F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges and set in the middle.
This recipe is my own modified version of one I found online a while back. These are smaller cookies, and I decrease the amount of vanilla extract. They are chewy and crunchy and supremely rich. I can only eat a couple before I get a little overwhelmed. I don't know yet if the kids will like them, since usually they don't even like walnuts in the chocolate chip cookies I make. I will get their input once they get home with the husband.

And a note: Now that I am making a cookie a week, I'll also need to half the recipes I use. 5 dozen cookies just isn't necessary. In fact, even when not baking a batch a week, I usually have to throw out quite a few cookies. Just don't tell my mother-in-law I still do this. Once, while she was sitting in my kitchen, I tossed a couple dozen cookies out. She almost fished them out of the trash!

Knitting is happening here. It always is, really, but sometimes happens at a break-neck pace and at other times, it's snail-speed. I finished one of the Miniature Cowichan Cardigans Sunday night. Yesterday, I cast on for the second. I may have to make a few more, since I have nieces who also collect American Girl dolls.

Mini Cowichan Cardigan from
Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007
yarn: Cascade 220

This is for Annika's doll. Annika adores pink and selected this lovely shade of magenta for her doll's sweater. The color would sort of tire me out and I'd have to put it down once in a while, but all in all, I loved working the pattern. Of course, said pattern is no longer available online, as I found out all too late; thank goodness for blog friends that store PDF's forever.

Laurel's color selection is a softer turquoise. The twisted rib hems and cuffs are my favorite part to knit up. I'm hoping to have it done in a week's time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

cookie of the week

It is my hope that July will be the month that some of my hopes see light of day. They're not huge resolutions I'm tackling, just things that I wish I did on a regular basis. I sit down at the end of the day and think, "Oh, I would have liked to bake today," or, "It would have been nice to dust the blinds today." You know, things that get pushed to the bottom of my list because more important things come up. Or things that only get done once they're right in my face, screaming for attention.

Last school year, it was my hope to bake a cookie a week, like Leslie and others do. I don't even think there were two consecutive weeks in the entire year that my children enjoyed home baked cookies...

I know it's summer, but with Annika going to her first day of pre-Kindergarten yesterday, I decided it was now or never. The cookie baking began. Pre-K is only a month long. She'll start Kinder in August; Laurel will be in fourth grade. Maybe once August rolls around, I'll have a routine in place for the Cookie of the Week.

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

1 c butter or margarine, softened :: 2 eggs :: 2 c packed light brown sugar :: 2 tsp vanilla extract :: 1-3/4 c all-purpose flour :: 1 tsp baking soda :: 1 tsp ground cinnamon :: 1/2 tsp salt :: 3 c quick-cooking oats :: 8 oz. pkg. Heath Toffee Bits :: 1 c Sweetened Coconut Flakes (optional)

Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Beat butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat until blended. Stir in oats, toffee bits and coconut, if desired, with spoon. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto prepared sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove to wire rack. About 4 dozen cookies.
Everyone who's sampled has given a thumbs-up. For those of you who aren't coconut fans, you can certainly omit the coconut, but I have to say that it's not an overwhelming flavor, is pretty tasty and gives it a little moisture. The cookies are chewy, mostly from the toffee bits melting during baking. And they're fabulous with coffee.