current projects

Gingerbread

gingerbread

Not that kind of gingerbread.

Mid asked me why I don’t draft my own patterns, especially for scarves. The simplest answer is that most of my scarves are either pulled from a stitch dictionary or something I made up on the fly to have travel/thoughtless knitting. But he’s probably right, and I probably should be writing them down again, if only to have a record of what I did.

Gingerbread is a simple travel/beginner’s cabling project. It does require some level of understanding of cabling-though the cables are exceptionally easy. For the scarf in the photo, I used a 4×4 back cable:

*work moss stitch to stockinette panel*

holding next four stitches to the back (either on a cable needle/dpn or air cabling), knit the next four stitches off of the needle, place the reserved four stitches back on the needle (if not air cabling) and knit those four stitches

*work moss stitch panel*

The pattern is adjustable in that you can alter how frequently you cable, the direction the cable leans, and change the width by adding or removing stitches to the moss stitch panels or increasing/decreasing the size of the cables. You can also change the needle size and the yarn weight to change size-a sport weight on fours will be narrower than the example scarf with worsted on eights which will be narrower than bulky on ten and halves.

Gingerbread Scarf

Worsted weight yarn [Aim for 300 yards or more for a cabled scarf]

Size 8 needles

Cable needle

Moss stitch [moss]

Across an odd number of stitches, moss stitch is simply knitting and purling every stitch straight across. If you were to work it on an even number it would be a rib

4×4 cable [4c]

Holding next four stitches to the back (either on a cable needle/dpn or air cabling), knit the next four stitches off of the needle, place the reserved four stitches back on the needle (if not air cabling) and knit those four stitches.

Place marker [pm]
Cast on 31 stitches

Knit one row (optional, but I find it makes it easier)

Next row:

Rws 1, 3, 5, 7: Moss for five stitches, pm, knit 8 stitches, pm, moss for five stitches, knit 8 stitches, pm, moss for five stitches

Even numbered rows: Moss for five stitches, pm,purl 8 stitches, pm, moss for five stitches, purl 8 stitches, pm, moss for five stitches

Row 9: Moss for five stitches, pm, 4c, pm, moss for five stitches, 4c, pm, moss for five stitches

Row 10: Moss for five stitches, pm,purl 8 stitches, pm, moss for five stitches, purl 8 stitches, pm, moss for five stitches

 

Repeat rows 1-10 for desired length. Bind off in pattern. Weave in any ends and very lightly block if using a natural fiber-cables don’t like heavy blocking.

gingerbread 2

 

 

 

 

 

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The Art of Reading Cables

the art of reading cables

This isn’t so much a tutorial.

Reading cables is being able to follow the pattern the cable in the cable itself, without following the pattern. Generally about halfway through the establishing repetition I can tell how to knit the rest of the cable, just by how the cables are laid out in the row.

The pattern is nice to have. Does the cable twist left? Twist right? Am I slowly eating purls into knits or knits into purls? But the pattern isn’t necessary because in the end it’s just a cable and if I go off roading I’ll still have a cable.

It’s a meditation of a sort, figuring out what happens next. It’s part of what the addictive quality of cables are for me. I like lace for the challenge (I have knit Faroese and similar sized projects in the past, just not recently), and for the variety. But I will also go back to cables when I need to remember why I love to knit.

I’m going to keep saying this until I internalize it: 2016 will be the year of Doing. I have several sweaters sitting around my apartment in various stages of neglect. All cabled. One of them will be finished by the end of next year. My first sweater was a heavy men’s aran. If I could do it at 15, there’s no reason I can’t do it at 30.

My current cable is a scarf I’m knitting to ease back into patterns. It’s getting traded for a trip home and a bottle of wine.

Travel Shawls

image

I’m sitting on the tracks somewhere between Buffalo and Rochester.

The train is full.  They always tell you it’s full, but this time they actually mean it. People are disappointed that they can’t sit together, there’s something wrong with one of the crossings ahead of us, and the woman sitting behind me apparently makes a hobby out of insulting people-her own admission, not an observation I’m making.

It’s okay though because this is a shawl fall again. I’ve amassed a small collection of basic shawl patterns, things that are fairly mindless and not a lot of space. I’m working a pattern called Morrighan (I did forget scissors, which is awkward for modular knitting).

I might end up with a finished shawl by Utica.

Canning on Horrific Knits

And a random photo of Rhys. Because, Rhys.

And a random photo of Rhys. Because, Rhys.

Apple Beer Preserves [apples, alcohol, jam]

Apple Butter [apples, fruit, fruit butter]

Apple Pear Jam [apples, jam, fruit]

Apple Pectin

Apple Slices [apples, fruit, herbs]

Basic Pickles [pickles, vegetables, herbs]

Blackstrap Strawberry Jam [fruit, jam, berries]

Blender Salsa [salsa, tomatoes, herbs]

Blood Orange Honey Jelly [citrus, fruit, jelly]

Blood Orange Rosemary Soda Syrup [citrus, fruit, syrups]

Blueberry Peach Jam [jam, fruit, berries]

Blue Plum Jam [jam, plums]

Canning tips-using seconds

Caramel Apple Jam [apple, jam,fruit]

Christmas Jam [berries, jam, herbs]

Citrus-Raw Pack [citrus, fruit, oranges]

Cran-Apple Butter [apples, cranberries, fruit butter]

Cranberry Sauce, Whole Berry [cranberries, sauces, fruit]

Crock Pot Apple Butter [apples, fruit butter, herbs]

Cyser Style Apples [apple, fruit, herbs]

Firestarter [peaches, jam, peppers]

Freezing Fruit

Habanero Hot Sauce [peppers, sauces, herbs]

Herbed Tomato Sauce Base [tomatoes, sauce, herbs]

Juicing for canning

Mulled Apples [apples, fruit, herbs]

Oranges in Whiskey [citrus, fruit, alcohol]

Produce Box Relish [Microbatch, relish, pickles]

Purple Butter [berries, fruit butter, herbs]

Red Hot Applesauce [apples, applesauce, fruit]

Simple Applesauce [apples, applesauce, fruit]

Spiked Apple Butter [apples, alcohol, fruit butter]

Spiked Berry Syrup [berries, syrup, alcohol]

Spring Berry Jam [jam, berries, vanilla]

Strawberry Vanilla Jam [jam, berries, vanilla]

Sunshine Jam [jam, citrus, fruit]

Sweet Hot Pepper Relish [peppers, relish, pickles]

Sweet Pear Butter [fruit, fruit butters, herbs]

Vanilla Spiced Peaches [fruit, peaches,vanilla]

Rhys [On Doing Extreme Things,Impulsively]

rhys3

I shaved my head today.

Yes, completely.

Yes, buzzed it.

My hair went from middle to bottom of my back to fuzzy bald.

Unfortunately, my depression did terrible things to my drive this winter (I’ve mentioned in passing that getting into a beauty routine was one of the best things I’ve done for my sanity in a long time, and I’ve meant it) and the weather did the rest-the back of my head essentially dreaded to itself. There was no saving it. I knew for a long time that it was coming to this. [That was a very hard paragraph for me to write, but reading about people’s experiences with this on Reddit helped me immensely so if I can let one person know that it’s okay. these things happen, then I’m happy.]

So, not entirely on a whim and not entirely surprised, I had my sister shave my head for me this afternoon.

The first cut was the hardest but I’m surprisingly calm.

It’s a very decisive move-the people who love, really really love it and the people who hate it are vocal about hating it. But I veil in public most of the time anyway (part of the reason it took me so long to do it) so it’s not going to make that much of an impact on my social life.

How much of an impact did it have on me emotionally? I know that a lot of women put a lot of weight behind their hair. I’ve never been one to do that…it’s hair. It grows. So I never really had an emotional attachment to it, so going this extreme wasn’t that hard. I actually find it very freeing. I feel a lot lighter, and not just in the literal ‘I just shaved my waist length hair off’ sense.

Ultimately it’s just hair. It’ll grow back-which was the point, crop it and let it grow back healthier, because even if I managed to get it teased out it was going to be destroyed.

But do I recommend it? In a sense, yes. I want you to do the scary things. I want you to do the uncomfortable things. Because that’s how you make room for the new things.

And in the end it’s just hair. It grows back.

Edit: by request
image

Spring Berry Jam

stockpot

That, right there, is a picture of a beautiful thing.

My mom gave me a bright orange stock pot at Christmas to go with the rest of my orange kitchenware. She knew I was going to use it as a canner. It looked a little…off but I shrugged and put it aside.

I’m finally hitting the bottom of my ‘sandwich friendly’ jam-I’m not eating firestarter with peanut butter. I got the pot out, and realized what was funny looking about it is that it’s narrower than the rest of my pots (which means it fits enough on my completely functional, smaller burner that I can avoid the wonky larger burner) and what it lacks in width it makes up for in height-so I’m not flooding my stove at a full boil when I can pints.

So yes, welcome to canning season 2015.

*A berry recipe with a hint of vanilla. Add a splash or two of bourbon and let me know how it works out. I bet it would be lovely. I did use a full 2 quarts of berries-split between black, blue, and strawberry. Use what you can find. I bought berries when they were cheap at Aldis and froze them until I had time to pull them out and get them cooked down.

**This batch gave me  4 quarter pints and a half pint jar. Remember that water content, humidity, how long you let the fruit cook down, and other factors will impact output-but that was my jar count for a baseline.

Spring Berry Jam

2 quarts mixed berries (frozen is fine, or fresh that’s frozen until you have a full amount-I waited until berries went on sale at Aldis)

4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla (real, preferably, not imitation)

1/4 cup lemon juice (mainly for flavor, berries are acidic enough to can without it-but to ensure acidity, use bottled lemon juice)

In a large saucepan, bring fruit, sugar, vanilla, and lemon to a hard boil. After 10 minutes of boiling check for gel by placing a plate in the freezer. Place a small amount of jam on the plate and freeze for 30 seconds. When you can run your finger through the jam and it holds it shape without running together, it’s gelled.

Fill jars and process for 10 minutes using a boiling water canner. Or, you can freeze the jam for up to one year.

I did BWB process these jars. If you are not familiar with how to boiling water bath process food for canning, please make sure to read over a source like the Ball Blue Book or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Canning is not particularly difficult, but it’s also not a process that you should take lightly. This recipe assumes you know the basics of boiling water bath canning. If you are not comfortable with canning, this recipe can be stored in the freezer for 1 year.

rhys2

Obligatory Rhys progress photo