Too much sunset

I learn by doing. Each project has lessons for me and I embrace them with joy. Each less than perfect spot in a project means the next project will be just that much better because I’ve learned something.

Each sweater I’ve knit has taught me a lot. I can lay a sweater out and show you where I learned something, like how to do intarsia in the round, how to improve the back neck shaping, tweak the shoulder shaping for a flawless fit, perfect faux sleeves . . . the list goes on. I can’t conceive of working a project and not learning something new, not *trying* something new. It’s how I’m wired.

I had a lot of yarn left over from the Sunset sweater. The sun took less than a yard of two different colors. Each block of color used up only a portion of the supply I bought. What I had left over was *almost* enough for a sweater . . . almost. So I bought a couple more skeins of purple and waited for inspiration to strike. And it did!

I saw a sweatshirt on Pinterest that spoke to me. *This* color blocking was what I wanted to knit. Ooo, the challenge!

You can pop this off in raglan . . . it would look great! If you’re interested in trying this, here are the skills you’ll need beyond basic top-down sweater knitting.

Using up the yarn left over from Sunset at the Farm

What? You thought this was hard? Nope. Tedious? Yes. Hard? Not even. The result . . . yeah, that’s pretty spectacular.

The tips on what I will do next time (assuming there is such a thing) are at the bottom of this post. The following instructions are for what I did on *this* sweater.

The angle is created by working a short row turn every fourth stitch starting six stitches from the point at which you want the angle to start. For this sweater it was right under the arm after working the underarm caston.

Place a marker where you want the center top of your angle to start. Work six stitches and then work a SRT (short row turn). Turn your work and work in the opposite direction past the marker and six more stitches, then work a SRT. This completes your angle setup. This next bit is the repeat. Turn and work to the previous SRT. Work the SRT and three more stitches before working another SRT. Repeat until you have ~12 stitches remaining. This is the low side of your angle.

Now work three rows of the background stripe color in the round working all the stitches. Knit the first row, purl the second, knit the third. That’s the separation border between body and striped section.This will be repeated at the end of the horizontal color stripe section before the vertical stripe section.

Now work the horizontal stripes doing the same SRT sequence changing color every second row. Once all the horizontal stripes are complete, work the separation border.

To prep the bobbins for the vertical stripe portion, knit a two-stitch swatch. Do *not* slip any edge stitches. The goal is to get a good estimate of the yarn required for each vertical stripe of color. Knit to the length you want the vertical stripe. Put a temporary knot in the yarn and frog it. Measure from the start of the yarn to the temporary knot. Multiply by 2. Add 10%. If you’ve lots of yarn to spare and are worried that you won’t have enough, add another 10%. That’s the length of yarn you will need for each *pair* of stripes.

Use the *carrying yarn without floats* technique to connect the bobbins to the live stitches. I need to do a video on this. It’s super easy to do but really tough to explain. I’ll add it to my *to do* list. Soon. Maybe.

I worked six rows of seed stitch at the bottom edge of the sleeves and used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Castoff in the stripe colors. I used an invisible closure and worked the ends in. This, too, needs a video. It’s a tiny bit fussy but the join where the start and end of the castoff occurs truly does vanish, like it was never there.

If I were to do this color blocking sweater again I would make the following adjustments. I would . . .

  • extend the angle up/down onto the sleeves for a more harmonious color break. I would start the SRTs on the upper sleeve prior to the separation of the sleeve. This would require a bit of calculation. It would go something like this. Count the sleeve stitches at the underarm caston point. Subtract 12 (for my measurements – it should be about 1/3 the total count) stitches for the top of the angle. Divide that number by 3 (working with the new numbers – see below). That’s the number of SRTs/rows before the underarm caston where the angle must start.
  • make the SRTs every third stitch to give the angle just a little more heft.
  • start the color change under the arm with a jogless stripe connection at the center of the start of the angle so the end of each stripe on back and front matches exactly in technique.
  • knit three rows of horizontal color so the width of the color bands more closely matches the width of the vertical stripes.

So, there you have it. What I did, what I would do in the future . . . it’s a thing.

Relearning an old skill

This week I’m diving back into programming. It’s been so long much has changed. The latest iteration of PHP is so different much of what I knew before must be rediscovered. What fun!

For months I’ve had in mind a program to produce conti-something stitch and row counts based on the user’s gauge and measurements. Paired with a database in which the data resides, the program will make all the necessary calculation to produce a garment that fits the way the knitter envisions.

I got a good start yesterday. From the initial start a few months ago I polished up the database tables and got the program started. I now have an accurate caston calculation, something I hadn’t done in my spreadsheet. Woot! Let the good times roll!

Beef/Pork Soup . . . OMGosh.

Beef Pork Soup

OMGosh. Awesome soup today. I made chicken soup for Wadly yesterday, which smelled fabulous, and beef/pork soup for me today. Amazing beautiful nummy soup

Prep: Make bone broth. Wadly gets huge intact beef leg bones from our local butcher. He whacks them apart into big chunks using a dedicated chop saw which gives both marrow and cartilage for bone broth. Roast the bones for 1 hour at 400 deg. Place in crock pot with 1/4 c apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns and fill to the top with filtered water. Let sit for one hour, then cook on low for 3 days. Bottle the broth. Freeze in pint jars until needed. Wadly gets multiple bones at a time and stores them in the freezer in clean pet food bags with a zippered top (reuse/recycle/re-purpose) and cuts them up when I’m ready to run a new batch of broth.
 
Prep: Black beans. Clean and rinse, add to crock pot, 5.5 cups water, 2 cups beans, sea or Himalayan salt, 1/2 c orange juice, 1/2 onion. Cook for 6 hrs. Drain off liquid and freeze in wide mouth pint jars until needed.
 
Prep: Canned diced tomatoes . . . run a 16 oz can through the blender. It’s about 1 pint of tomato sauce. Most blender rings will fit a small mouthed pint jar. I dump the 16 oz can into the pint jar, spin on the blade/ring and blend it for about 30 secs. Instant tomato sauce.
 
Dice meat (2/3 beef / 1/3 pork, hamburger and ground pork works just fine, 1.5 to 2 lbs). Sautee in a couple tbsp of butter. When it no longer looks like raw meat add spices. Oregano or marjoram/ thyme/rosemary/crushed red pepper, black pepper, a bit of sea salt (not too much). Add 1 cup bone broth. Add 1 cup tomato sauce. Let it simmer for a while. The acid from the toms add tenderness, the bone broth adds nutrition and flavor. The spices (use what suits you) adds flavor.
 
While that’s doing its thing . . .
 
Cut up three good sized mushrooms, sautee in butter.
 
Peel and dice 2 carrots (about 3/4 cup)
 
Dice onion (about 3/4 cup)
Dice zucchini (about 3/4 cup)
 
Add one more vege. I used asparagus as it’s what I had. Pick something you like. Squash, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Same thing, about 3/4 cup. The stronger the flavor of the vege, the more it will change the flavor.
 
When all the parts are ready, add them to a 6 quart or larger stew pot. Add an additional cup of bone broth, the rest of the tomato sauce and let it stew until the carrots are tender.
 

Ready to go in the freezer

Turn the pot off and stir in the pint of black beans. The result is a chunky almost stew-like soup loaded with nutrition and flavor. Serve with rolls, bread, salad . . . whatever your favorite side is. Store what’s not used in pint jars in the freezer for when you need a quick and nutritious meal.

Crafting in small spaces

We have a bit of an unusual life, Wadly and I. We live on twelve south-facing acres backed up to forty square miles of Weyerhaeuser on a dead end road off a dead end road mere minutes from the freeway. As locations go, it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s quiet and private here. From the top of our property we can look out over Shoestring Valley and see Mount St. Helens in the distance.

4×6 cutting/crafting table

Once our mortgage was paid off we decided living small was better than bigger fancier accommodations with its accompanying debt. Because our living space is small, engaging in crafts like quilting takes some innovating and good organizational skills. Having a table that will fold up out of the way when not needed is a crafty thing indeed. When it comes to crafting in a small space, it’s all about maximizing use of space!

Unless you have a family whose members require personal space, bedrooms are a waste. They’re one-use rooms not used for most of the day. I’ve always though Murphy beds were a really smart idea. They allow the bedroom to be more than one thing.

Table tilted up out of the way

Our bed is not a Murphy bed. It’s a metal frame that sits up high enough that storage bins can be placed beneath. To further maximize the space, I’ve mounted a 4×6 layout/cutting table on the footboard. The plywood base is covered by an Omnigrid mat I purchased from the factory on a Guild field trip. The mat is held to the table by tiny brass nails to keep it in place when the table is tilted up out of the way.