Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blanket Square Swap

I am participating in a blanket square swap with my knitting and crochet group, Twisted Stitchers.  Each person who chose to participate will knit or crochet 12 squares and trade 1 with other members.  Then we’ll sew the squares together and have a sampler blanket to show at the end.  I’m excited to see what my final blanket will look like.  (You’ll have to wait until December to find out too).

I’ve been doing different squares, both for variety and to test out different patterns.  I also tried my hand at writing a few variations to patterns.   I took the stitch repeat pattern for an old doily pattern and wrote my own square pattern.  The doily pattern is named Darling.

Cast on 44 stitches for a 12 x 12 square.


Knit 4 rows (in stockinette)
Pattern repeat (8 rows)

Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl (and all ws rows)
Row 3: knit 6, *k2tog, yo, k2; rep from * to last 7 stitches, knit 7
Row 5: knit
Row 7: knit 6, *k2, ssk, yo; rep from * to last 7 stitches, knit 7

Stop pattern repeat to allow for room to knit 4 rows to complete the square.

I love the final look of this stitch pattern. 

I also did a couple of basic squares changing the colors for variety.   The first is four small garter stitch squares sewn together for one 12 x 12 square and another is a stripped stockinette square.

I’m finishing up a blackberry pattern and a wave pattern using cabling.  I'll post pictures of the squares as I finish them and a photo of the finished swap blanket.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Summer T-Shirt

I’ve finally finished my summer T shirt that I started in April right before our move.  I kept putting this project down.  Part of the problem was starting it right before moving.  There was a lot of do both before and after the move.  It was an easy project-just straight stockinette stitch.  Stockinette gets boring.  But if you are looking for a project that is easy this is a good one.  (Especially if you are a new knitter or picking it up after a long absence).  It is basic knitting, purling, increasing and decreasing.   I'd make some modifications though.

The pattern is the bondi by the Berroco design team.  You can see my project page on Ravelry here:

The finishing work took a long time, mainly because I kept putting it off.  I don’t like the way that the shoulder neckline looks-the shoulder is too wide which means that a bra strap will show.  This can be fixed by doing short rows or using a smaller needle and doing more rows of neckline finishing work.  

I love the sleeves.  These sleeves look good on my arms and shoulders.  A great tip my favorite knitting instructor gave me once was to find a shoulder and sleeve that you love and that looks good one you.  Then use that pattern or part of instructions in future projects.  I'll definitely keep the sleeve instructions for the future.

I also don’t like the waistline.  The design was made to be loose, a kind of triangle shape.  The front of the shirt is shorter than the back when it is on.  I am not sure if that is a design problem or just a result of having boobs.  Either way the end result is a nice shirt but one that I will not wear.  I have to decide what to do with it.  I don’t think I’ll be frogging it and reusing the yarn.  It’s a bit too itchy for a T-shirt.  Maybe I’ll sell it.  Maybe I'll give it away.  Or maybe I'll keep it for reference.  

Next time I choose a T-shirt pattern I think I will see if I can find something similar in design and try it on first.  Then I would know that it is not something that I look good in and I won't waste 40 hours knitting it.  I always keep a close eye on photos of projects-to make sure that the designer hasn't pinned the back or has the models keeping her arms down to avoid a baggy or odd design to be hidden in a photo.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gorgonzola Sausage Pasta

This is a tasty and fast pasta dinner that everyone in the family should love.  You can control how spicy the dish is by your sausage choice.  Today I used a spicy Italian sausage and took it out of the casing.  You can slice the sausage and leave it in the casing if you prefer.  Start by putting on a pot of water to boil for the pasta.  After the pasta water is going start cooking the sausage and cut up the veggies.  I love spinach in pasta it adds a great flavor.  I hate taking a bite and having slimy spinach slide through-to avoid that I chop spinach into little pieces.

Make sure to wash it well (no one likes sand in their food) and chop it up into bite sized pieces.  I also put in carrots, green and red peppers, garlic and green onions.  You can use whatever veggies you have on hand or love.  I have used broccoli, white and red onions, kale and cabbage in the past.  I use pre-chopped garlic.  We buy the large size and use it with everything.  It saves a lot of time and makes dinner prep so much faster.

Once the sausage is cooked through add the veggies.  If you use precooked sausage you can cook everything at once.   I don't use butter or any oil.  The sausage usually has enough fat in it to make sure that the sausage doesn't stick to the pan.

As soon as the spinach cooks down and everything else is warmed through-take the pan off the heat.  I like my carrots to be crunchy so I don't cook them first.  If you prefer your carrots to be soft, add them first and add the remaining veggies according to how long they need to cook.  (It's your dinner-make it how you like it).

Once the veggies are done and the spinach is cooked down it can be added to your pasta.  I used rotini pasta and cooked it to the instructions.  Drain the pasta water.  Pour the sausage and veggies into the pasta and mix it up.  Add a fourth of a cup to a half cup of Gorgonzola cheese (This will add a lot of strong flavor to the dish-if you do not like spicy or heavily flavored dishes use less Gorgonzola).  You can use blue cheese or another strong cheese if you don't like Gorgonzola.   Also add a cup of Parmesan cheese.  Mix until the cheese melts and serve with crusty bread.

Gorgonzola Sausage Pasta (4 servings)

Sausage- one per person (cut into slices or ground)
Carrots-chopped (2 carrots)
Green Onions-chopped (1/2 bunch)
Red pepper (1 chopped)
Green pepper (1 chopped)
Spinach ( 1 bunch-cut into bite size pieces)
Garlic- 1 clove chopped
Pasta-according to directions/serving sizes
Gorgonzola- 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Parmesan- 1 cup

Cook pasta and sausage separately.  Add vegetables and cook according to how you like your vegetables.  Mix the drained pasta with sausage and vegetables.  Add cheeses and mix until melted.  Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Crystal Cove Beach

It has been really hot here over the last week.  We don't usually have weather in the low 100's in mid September.  We decided to take a break and spend the day at the beach.

Our favorite beach spot is Crystal Cove Beach.  It's located between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.  It is a California State Park and has tide pools with a lot to see.  Farther down the beach you will find smooth sand and plenty of space for surfing, body boarding, swimming or wave chasing.
While playing in the waves we found this abalone shell.  The abalone was long gone and the shell was broken.  It has beautiful color that doesn't show in the photo.

I haven't spent any time on my second Vegas sock so I brought it with me and did get a few rows in while warming up after being in the somewhat chilly ocean for a couple of hours.  Then went to explore the tide pools.
The sea grass adds great color to the tide pools.  If you look closely you'll see sea urchins and star fish.
This one was a bright orange.  The starfish were clustered together and hidden in the crevices of the rocks.  See if you can see the different star fish in the next picture.
This is a beautiful spot on the California coast.  So beautiful that a couple choose this spot to take their vows.
One last shot of the tide pools.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Project Bag Love

I joined a group on Ravelry-the project bag swap group.  I was paired with a couple of women.  One, Qmama on Ravelry, has already delivered my bag.  I love project bags and this one is adorable.  I love it.  Qmama did an excellent job in sewing the bag and in choosing the fabric.  Check out the project bag:

I also received some stitch markers, a wash and a zippered pouch.  THANK YOU again to Qmama!

I am impressed with the zippered pouch.  My sewing skills are rudimentary.  I’ve made a few bags and quite a few skirts.  Although the skirts were years ago, when I was in high school and college, and my sister and I decided we could conquer the A-line skirt pattern.  We made a ton of those skirts.  We wore them for a while too.  I have no idea where any of those skirts ended up.  Probably goodwill. 

I'll post pictures of the bags that I made for my swap-ee in a few weeks.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise if she happens upon my blog. 

I’ve finished one of my Vegas socks.  I should have paid more attention to the knitters on Ravelry that said the pattern had issues.  I did make sure to have enough stitches to pick up along the heel flap.  The heel itself is too narrow-too narrow by at least 8 stitches. 

It’s not an issue for wearing the socks around the house-but inside shoes it would annoy and most likely cause blisters.  So if you try this pattern out-adjust the heel accordingly.  I find the toe closure to work just perfectly. 

I’m working on finishing the second sock and am working on 12 x 12 inch squares for my Twisted Stitchers meetup group square swap.  Our goal is to swap a square with eleven other members and then sew the squares together for a sampler blanket.  Deadline is Christmas.  I can’t wait to see what we can create.   So far only one member has completed her squares.  I’ve got one down and 11 more to go.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Vegas Socks & Zzyzx Oasis

Mike and I headed over to Vegas last week for a business meeting.  On the road to Vegas off the 15 North from Southern California heading towards Vegas, there is a road called Zzyzx road.  At the end of this road is a small oasis with an old hotel. 

The California University Desert Studies Division now owns the oasis.  The existing structures were built decades ago when the property was run as a hot springs health spa.  A Mr. Springer chose the name because he claimed it to be the last word in the English language.   It’s paved part of the way and gravel the rest of the way.  In the middle of the Oasis is a small pond with a fountain in the middle.   

The ruins of the old hot springs health spa are still standing.  

Desert studies students and other scientists have the opportunity to stay at the oasis while studying in the desert.  They allow non-students to spend the night or weekend as well.  Contact the California Desert Studies program for more information. 

It is very peaceful and quiet out at Zzyzx.  We spent a couple of hours walking around and looking at everything.  The hotel rooms are small and reminiscent of the 1940's.  Twin beds, small closets and bathrooms are available in each room.  The public restroom close to the spa ruins has a ton of little kitchy things on the wall.  The sign above the chalkboard says " Something clever to say?  So answer the call.  Just don't scrawl it on our wall."

                                 *Caution.  Ejection Seat Controls.  For emergency use only.

Mike’s meeting gave me the opportunity to do some knitting.   I dropped him off for the meeting and then had the day to myself.  I’ve had this Madeline Tosh yarn for almost a year. 

It was purchased for my first sock class.  The class was cancelled at the last minute and the yarn has sat waiting.  I successfully completed the anklet socks a few weeks ago and decided that I could figure out a pattern for socks using my Tosh.  

I'm using the Woven Diamond Socks by Alexis Winslow.    So far the pattern is coming along nicely.  I checked out ravelry before starting this pattern, as I usually do, and found out that a lot of people had trouble with the heel turn and toe areas.  The most common comment was to make sure to knit the heel flat long enough so that you actually have enough stitches to pick up 12 along each side.  I followed that advice but did not change anything else.  The heel looks to be narrow.  Really narrow.  I'll have to see what happens and how they fit once done and blocked.

Here it is from another angle.

I'll take some shots of the finished socks and let you know what I think about the pattern when it's complete.  

Happy knitting this Labor day weekend.