Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Win Some, Lose Some

The Chair posed for pictures, and is now in service at my desk.

Plain Canvas

The square was not sent and will be frogged. I followed the recommended needle size and yarn and heeded when it was stated that the number of stitches was more important than the exact size. However, at 2 inches or 30% over requested size, it was unfit. I think the squares that didn't make the cut for the book were going to be made up into blankets for charity, but for the trouble of fitting it in, the undurability of such a loosely knit bit in a sock yarn for a blanket... I was more excited to use even tinier needles and re-use the yarn for something else. Someday.

Progress on The Blanket was almost nil. I have some more Thoughts on The Blanket, but the Actions haven't followed along yet.

Babka Baking
Babka was baked.
Babka was eaten.
Good Enough to Eat

Yarn was purchased and socks were begun. (Brown Sheep sportweight, heathery brown, for The Jeff Next Door, first time trying toe-up.)

The house was cleaned.

Is it the next weekend yet?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Weekend Tease

I've been sorely lacking in many important ways this week: SLEEP, blog posting, and photo sessions. I'm catching up in that order.

I'm NOT lacking in finished objects. If Blogger behaves this weekend and I'm able to use it again, I will show you pictures of:

- A knitted square for Larissa

- The finished chair

- Progress on The Blanket

- How (not) to make a delicious coffee flan

- Yarn details on the hat pattern

I mean, can you STAND the anticipation? Ha! I know that most of us are keeping these blogs as self-inspiration, self-motivation, and keeping self in check, so I think you understand.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Baby Sherbet Swirl: Knit Hat Pattern

Baby Sherbet Swirl

Baby Sherbet Swirl
Yarn: DK/Light/Worsted weight yarn. I used a cotton/rayon blend from a Smiley’s sale in NYC.
Needles: Size 6 or appropriate for yarn. I used my Denise Interchangables, Size 6. I have a special technique for using just one set of interchangeables for 2-circs knitting in the round.

Step-by-Step/For-the-Sake-of-Posterity/This-is-Exactly-What-I-Did Instructions:
CO 55 sts. Join to knit in the round using your favorite method, being careful, as ever, not to twist the cast on row.
Begin knitting: *K6, P1*
Repeat this row and continue until you’re ready for the decreases – I did about 4 inches.
1st Decrease round: *K6, S1, P1, psso*
2nd Dec round: *K5, S1, P1, psso*
3rd Dec round: *K4, S1, P1, psso*
Continue decrease rounds in this pattern until you only have about 16 stitches left. Cut yarn about 8-10” away from last stitch. Using a yarn needle, thread the yarn through the remaining loops and remove them from the knitting needles. DO NOT PULL TIGHT. Yet. Thread the yarn through the loops again, so that the end yarn goes through all the loops at the top twice. Then tighten the first round through the loops and then the second round through the loops. The knitting police will not ticket you for skipping the second go-round, but you get a much more satisfyingly tight close if you do both rounds. Weave in the ends and Voila!

Conceptual/Recipe/Y’all-Know-What-You’re-Doing Instructions: This is basically an all-stockinette roll brim cap with a variation: a purl stitch at regular intervals that shifts with each round. You can make this with any yarn in any size. When you know approximately how many stitches you would need to make a regular hat with your yarn and needles, you can figure out an exact number based on the idea of a multiple of 7 plus 6 stitches. If you don’t like any of those numbers, you can use a multiple of 8 plus 7 stitches, or a multiple of 6 plus 5 stitches… you get the drift. Then you’re doing a purl stitch every 7th stitch (or every 8th stitch or every 6th stitch). Because you took one out of the cast-on number, every time you come around the round of knitting, you’re “one ahead,” and every purl stitch happens just above and to the left of the one below it.

The decreases might not be the very best looking one to use with this hat. They were what I thought of on the fly to imitate the purl stitch, and they’re only mediocre on that front, but I chanted to myself that done is better than perfect. Done is better than perfect, and the decrease above is done, and works well enough. I’ll probably try some other decreases next time to get one that looks a little better – feel free to do the same and let me know your results.

Tricks I used on this hat and others:
- When joining the cast-on row in a round, put the 1st stitch and the last stitch next to each other at the end of one needle. Pull one of these stitches OVER the other, and put the one that is now at the end of the needle back on another needle (your other circular or dpn).
- I knit it with two circulars with my interchangeable needle set. The magic of knitting with two circs is not to be underestimated, and instructions are pretty easy to find all on the web. The magic of using only one set of interchangeable needles, with only two tips that are the right size, is a stroke of genius if I do say so myself. Or at least, I did a lot of needle-tip changing every single half-round before I came up with how to set them up without having to change them. If you post interest in the comments, I will make a tutorial.
- Double pull-through at the end. As described above in the step-by-step instructions. Not an AmberCake original innovation, but I think it’s vastly underutilized. I love it when the principles of friction and surface area work together in fiber. No, really. I think about that more than you know.

Monday, January 22, 2007


If you're here for the wristwarmer links, hello! Welcome!

Click here for the wristwarmer links I collected on del.icio.us.

If you're not familiar with del.icio.us, let me HIGHLY suggest you become acquainted. I find it totally brilliant for collecting weblinks and keeping track of all the neat stuff you find out here on the internet. Click here for a basic summary of how it works.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Keeping Going: A post of Extraordinary Length.

Blogland, I know that The Holidays are Over. Christmas is now such a distant memory that the unwritten thank you notes already seem months late. Still, it was only this week that I could put out my tree for proper collection to get mulched. And I have to tell you about my Christmas tree. Because my Christmas tree bloomed. That's right. You know all those dormant little brown nubbins at the ends of branches? The ones that look like teeny tiny beginnings of pine cones? They're buds. And in my house, they open.

Tree Busting Out

All over the tree, too, not just in one little spot.

Busting Out All Over

This is not the first time this has happened. I think it was two years ago now that by the time New Year's rolled around, my tree was covered in them. I estimated at least 300-400 opened buds, many of them an inch or longer.

It's hard to say what it means. I think it's because I can't figure out what I want it to mean. A friend told me today that her parents planted their cut Christmas tree one year and it took root and grew. Maybe it just means that life is really determined to Keep Going. So I've been Keeping Going.

Fine Mess

Filing, anyone? Most of my weekend went to organizing paperwork for my co-op apartment building. Did I mention that I'm the President of the Board of my co-op building? The Jeff Next Door likes to follow the announcement that I'm on the Board by telling people they are welcome to call me "Madame President." And Madame President has been collecting everything that she can and this weekend, the First Gentleman of the co-op and Madame President put it all into a little filing cabinet in sensible order with clear labels. I would never have imagined I could be this pleased with a filing cabinet. One could be perturbed that there is not one single sheet of paper from almost 10 years of this building's 18 year history as a co-op, but I prefer not to think about it, considering how very little I can do about that. I'm just looking forward and Keeping Going.

I also built a desk for myself this weekend. Okay, I only attached a couple of legs, courtesy of West Elm.

The 'Jay' Desk becomes the 'Amber' Desk

As I'll be wanting to sit at the desk, I started refinishing this chair I picked up on the street when someone put it out for trash collection.

Street Chair

"Refinish" feels like a strong word for what I intend to do - "remake"? I'm replacing the seat's rotting foam and recovering it. I'll hit the frame with a little sandpaper to clean it up a little and show more of the blue paint under the green, then reassemble and call it a day. It's a stable little thing, and although it's of the fake-o "antiqued" genre which usually earns a raised eyebrow from me, I'm growing a bit fond of it. I think the hardest bit will be choosing the fabric for the seat. A nice rich dark red velvet or brocade could be fitting, but a nice sturdy canvas might redeem some of the preciousness. I think I'll just Keep Going with it and see what happens.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Already January 4th? The Future is Now!

Well, Happy New Year. I usually don't go along with that whole resolutions bonanza, but I'm feeling it this year, at least a little bit. I think it has more to do with the post-holiday (please, enough crazy!) than with the changing of the calendar year, though perhaps the combination of the two makes both more powerful. At any rate, I'm ready to seize the spirit of taking a moment to consider what's up and what there should be more of and what there should be less of.

I usually wholly dismiss the standard resolution lists - clean the house, spend more time with ___, lose 10 pounds - as ridiculous and overwrought and cheap sentimentality. But I'll shrug my shoulders and go with the flow. Call the past the past and call the future the now and take a moment for reflection and contemplation of what that could be. Consider realistic notions of what I want my life to look like, but things I can aspire to, not just fall into.

Now is the part where I would post a list, if I had such a thing. It's under development. It will continue to be under development until next year, when I will turn the page and start a fresh sheet with similar things on it. I was very pleased that some of the items on the developing list started with "Continue to ..." and "Keep going on ..." I think part of why I've often looked down on "New Year's Resolutions" lists is that it's not as though you're going to start going to the gym three times a week and cooking healthy meals every night if you don't know how to boil water yet and haven't ever been to a gym. (For the record, I've been to gyms, and I can and do cook) Maybe I'm just not the extreme hold-myself-to-goals type - I sure can't start a bunch of things I've never been good at or been able to force myself to start or stick with them just because they're my "New Year's Resolutions." I would quickly dismiss it all as ridiculous and unrelated to my life.

I think instead of making Resolutions, I'm making Assessments, taking Inventory: do more of this, keep going on that, get rid of this, this is something I've been intending, time to fish or cut bait. So the real resolution in this is simply: Better. Not because 2006 or any other year or time or day was Bad. Better as a superlative of Good, not as an improvement on Bad. Call it good, call it over. And this year, as with all other years, let's also have Better.

Cheers to Better.