Friday, February 20, 2009


The week has gone by quicklier than usual on account of the Presidents Day holiday and being out of the office all day on Wednesday.  It's also been quieter because a VIP visitor we were expecting (and had been planning for madly) had to cancel.  Suddenly the weekend is here, I'm going up to Fresno, and I haven't even packed yet.

Thankfully it's just three hours away, we're only going for a couple of days, and I've already decided what knitting project to bring.  All that remains is to do a quick search on any knitting shops in the area.  (Priorities: got mine straight!)

The only things I'm bringing are the socks and Shetland Shorty--which I started long ago and only last week picked up again, only to discover a pretty huge mistake I'd made, which meant  I had to frog it pretty much to the beginning and basically knit it all over.  But that process has shown me that this is a project I want to and can finish, and one that I will definitely wear.  I'm just worried that I won't have enough yarn (it calls for 490 yards for the smallest size, and the Handmaiden Sea Silk I'm using only has 435).  But I will knit onwards anyway, fingers crossed.

I'm excited for this weekend trip: Fresno is not only the Raisin Capital of the World and the Gateway to Yosemite, it is DC's hometown. I'm looking forward to seeing the house he grew up in, baby pics, and -- maybe, if I'm lucky -- old videos of his orchestra and sports team days.  His folks have the karaoke machine at the ready, too.  Nice.

Last week I found the battery charger for my digital SLR, so I'll be bringing that up with me.  Here's to a great weekend of family, fun, inspiration, and simply getting away!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine hunger killer

You read my last post right: DC has gone out of town this weekend.  The person who chose the date for this conference must've been single.  That's cool.  He's off visiting an old friend, too, so it's all good.

He didn't forget me, though. Last weekend, I got a pre-V-day homecooked meal.  From a man who doesn't cook (very often).  He got the recipe from Saveur magazine.   It's called "Matambre," an Argentine dish which, in the native tongue, means, "hunger killer."  Check out how hard he worked:

dsc08093   dsc08094   dsc08095

Marinating, slicing, chopping, placing, rolling, sautee-ing, baking.  Such a darling to watch: he worked so hard! And a few hours later, done!

done!   bon appetit

It was a beautiful meal.

And before he left, he gave me a great book, which we will read together.  On the first page he wrote a beautiful dedication, which is something he is wont to do, and something I have read every day he has been away.  It makes me swoon.  Thanks, DC!

Today I got to hang out with my parents and some of my siblings.  It was a great day!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy heart days

The other day I was surfin' the 'nets and stumbled across this how-to on The Purl Bee; soon thereafter I realized that I have some fabric scraps and some blank cardstock:  I can do this!  And, in time!  Woot!

I dove into my stashes.  Fabric: small, odd-sized pieces, a few inches by a few inches, that I'd been saving for some kind of use one of these days... I'm especially pleased about being able to use the hot pink with multicolored cherry blossoms--something I brought home from Japan an embarrassing number of years ago.  Stationery: I cut some letter-writing paper in half to add more color.  I had some gold- and silver-splashed paper that worked wonderfully.

fabric and paper

After just a bit of fudging with tension and stitch length I was off and running.   In a couple hours (measured by the passage of a couple of tween dramas), I had a dozen cards.

2009 heart cards

Here's a few things I did differently:

Because my fabric scraps were all different sizes,  I simply folded each piece in half and eyeballed a heart-shaped cut.  Then gave them all a quick press under the iron.

I put each fabric heart in place with a little bit of glue to avoid bunching or slipping off position.  This was helpful because there was a lot of turning involved to follow the curves and points of the shape.

I also played around with sewing the "fold" border onto the background cardstock at different edges, just to mix it up a bit.

reds thread

This spool of thread in variegated reds added a fun, whimsical look, but also saved me both time and money in terms of not having to buy more than one spool, and not having to re-thread the sewing machine multiple times.  I chose to do zig-zag stitch for the cards' borders to show off the color changes.

The thread was the only item I purchased (with a 40% off coupon to boot), making the grand total for this project was something like eighty-four cents.  That's a whole lotta bang for under a buck!

I'm putting the last few in today's mail, and since they're all going domestic, my friends should receive them just in time.  (DC's was the prototype, which I managed to finish early and slip in his bag before he left for a conference on Wednesday.)  If you've got time today--or even tomorrow if you're going to hand-deliver--I highly recommend this quick and fun project!  Hearts will be glad!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feeding on fresh

It's been a weird couple of weeks of weather for us here in Southern California.  Last week saw summerlike temps in th 70s and 80s at the beginning, and rain by Wednesday and through the weekend even into Monday (so many consecutive days of rain is definitely not normal--but we need it)!  We had a bit of a respite from the wetness from yesterday, but it's still pretty chilly (we Califonians think that 50s = brrr).  And it looks like we might get some more rain by the end of the week.

dsc08114So I feel very lucky to have had sunshine and been able to make it out to today's farmers market, with one of my co-workers, to boot.  I am fortunate to have not one, but two farmers markets each week, right here in Downtown.  Back in the day I used to only window shop; if I made any purchases they'd usually be kettle corn to share with my officemates, and flowers as a treat for myself.

But since my siblings and I started to get together to cook family dinners for our parents and one another over a year ago, I started to buy fruits--especially pluots in the summer--for dessert.  From there I gradually expanded to greens and veggies.  We especially like the golden cherry tomatoes and asparagus.  Another fave is corn.  (Why did I take pics of artichokes and cauliflower, then, you ask?  One can hope!)


As I got more and more into my Love Earth campaign, the bi-weekly farmers market seemed a matter of course: not only was I eating (and feeding my family) local, but taking a brief walk down the street during my lunch hour was also cutting down on trips to the supermarket.  I love it when Love Earth makes my life simpler, too!

Among my resolutions include eating something that I've grown myself, eating along with the seasons, and expanding my cooking repertoire.

I love seeing how the seasons change as different fruits and veggies are available. This week there are bunches of beautiful beets and radishes, artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower, tons of different salad greens, and zucchini.  There is also a booth that sells Asian veggies, like bok choy, eggplant, and all sorts of stuff that I don't know the names for in English--yum!

Fruits-wise, it's vastly citrus and berries.  I am in awe at the variety of citrus there are: tangelo, oro blanco, ruby grapefruit, pomelo, blood orange, navel orange, clementine, satsuma.  And on and on.  I especially like the tasting stations, where you an really appreciate how different each of these looks on the inside, as well as the range of flavors!  My must-go-to is always the ruby grapefruit, but this season the lady at the stall told me that this has been the best oro blanco harvest she's ever had.  So I tried it.  And it's tasty!  So today I bought more!

fm samples   fm strawberries   fm berries

Of course, the flowers are always eye-catchers.  Two weeks ago I brought home some ranunculus, and they're still blooming on my dining table!  I have always thought them adorable but never had any of my own.  Now they are way up there with peonies among my favorites!  Today, the newbies I noticed were huge, taller-than-me branches of budding plum blossom, and bunches of sweet-smelling lilac, which I thought didn't grow out in these warm temps.  It makes me smile to see men in their business suits with a bunch of flowers wrapped in brown craft paper.  Or a lady walking by with an armful of stock or lilies in one arm.  Very Clarissa.

My food resolutions are pretty ambitious, considering my eating habits and purchases thus far have remained squarely in the box of "Familiar."  In fact, I want to start making menus--which, though it can be seen as a sort of staying-in-the-box measure, is intended for me to put more time into what I consume, both digestively and financially.  I must admit that today's purchases were pretty wimpy: a basket of strawberries in addition to the oro blancos.  They will be nice breakfast treats or snacks.

I'm stoked about trying harder and being able to experiment more, with the encouragement of one of my brothers and his girlfriend--who are humanitarian vegetarians--and DC, who simply loves veggies.  Hope to be sharing some of my hits (and misses, as undoubtedly there will be) here!

Socks (again)

camisocksI took advantage of last weekend's rainy-day light and took pictures of my current WIP:  a simple pair of socks in Lorna's Laces Camouflage.  This time I am using US0 dpns so increased my stitch count to 68.  I am doing toe-ups as I normally do, with short row heel.  I always play around with the toe shaping because I don't want it too pointy, and I think I'm happy with the way this one turned out.

Here's what I did:

Figure-8 cast on over 12 sts; K to establish first row and divide evenly onto 4 dpns (6 sts each). 

Increase at beginning of Needles 1 and 3 and at the end of Needles 2 and 4 for 4 rows: 10 sts on each needle. (I do a KFB.) 

[Increase row, then K 1 row] 3 times = six rows, 13 sts on each needle. 

[Increase row, then K 2 rows] 4 times = eight rows, 17 sts on each needle. K 2 more rows before beginning stitch pattern.

I actually started knitting a pair of socks from leftovers, but was not very confident at all over (1) my chosen comination of yarns, (2) the sufficiency of the amount of yarn I had, and (3) the jog created when I switched colors. . . So, I gave up.  The whole mess is still on my table, a tangle of eight or so mini balls of yarn and at least as many dpns.

The current Camouflage socks are a sort of impulse project, because I had nothing lined up to knit upon completing my brother's convertible mitts (which he loved, by the way!  I got mad props and a huge hug!) and I like to always have knitting in my bag for my bus commutes.  The truth is, I hardly wear the three pairs of socks I've knit for myself over the years, and though I love the idea of knee highs in the alternating rib stitch pattern I chose, I just don't think I'm going to wear these all that much.  Maybe it's the colorway--which was at first selected for my brother's mitts, but rejected by him in favor of something more plain.  I've never been a girly-girl, but "Camouflage" may be an over-the-top colorscheme even for me.

So I decided: I'm going to finish these socks (already much further along than in the photo), but not make them into knee highs (which means I will have pretty substantial leftovers, as usual), and I'm going to give them to my dad for his birthday in April.  I've knit two pairs for him already, and he always appreciates them. 

And this is why the Knitting For Myself resolution is going to be difficult.  Wishmeluck!

Monday, February 9, 2009

First FO

The kniting's been complete for a while, but it wasn't until last week that I wove in ends, did some sewing, and finally completed this project.  My brother's hands will be toasty, especially these days that the weather has taken a dreary turn towards rain.

convertible mittsThis is the third man-hand project I've knitted recently, having completed my first pair of "glittens" for a friend and a pair of gloves for my Supernova before last year's end.

At first I tried to follow a pattern, but then decided it would be easier to make things up as I went.  Six iterations later I've had lots of practice to refine my pattern, and have a basic recipe for cuff-to-finger hand warmers.

My guys requested a finer fabric, so I used fingering weight yarn (XXL Trekking; ShiBui sock yarn; and here, a washable merino whose name I forget) and my favorite US1 dpns.  Here's what I basically did for the convertible mitts:  Cast on 60 sts and knit in a ribbing pattern for 4 inches, then increased one on each side of the first 2 sts every three rows until there were 20 gusset stitches.  Put those stitches on a piece of scrap yarn, then cast on 2 sts by backward loop, and continued knitting on 60 sts for a half inch before resuming the ribbing pattern.  Cast off after 1.5 inches of ribbing.

conerted mitts

To make the finger "cup":  Three rows before the ribbing for the fingers, picked up 30 stitches (first 30 for left hand; last 30 for right hand), then used backward loop to cast on the other 30 sts (to create an opening that woud slip on and off).  Knitted the half with picked-up stitches, ribbed the half with cast-on stitches for 1.5 inches, then knit all stitches until the cuticle of the index finger.  Use the try-as-you-go knitting method, too, because people's finger lengths tend to vary quite a bit.

buttonloop detailOn the first pair of mitts I did decreases like on a sock toe: K1, KSSP, K to last 3 sts on Needle 2, K2tog, K1; repeat for Needles 3 and 4; K one row; etc.

On this pair I did decreases like on a hat: K 8 sts, K2tog; K one row.  K 7 sts, K2tog; K one row.  K 6 sts, K2tog; K one row.  Etc.  Until 6 sts remain.  Cut yarn leaving a foot-long tail.  I then crocheted an 8-st loop and added a button to  the cuff, to eliminate any flapping finger covers.

I saw the "glittens"  in action when I met up with my friend for dinner a few weeks ago; he told me that his mom was jealous!  DC wears his gloves all the time, and makes it a point to tell people that I made them for him.  I'm excited to give this pair to big bro at dinner tonight.  I think he's gonna like them.