Life’s been good . . .

I hope life has been good for you. It’s been okay for us. We’re fostering a pair of Golden Retrievers. OMGosh they are DUMB. I will NEVER adopt a golden retriever to be an “us” dog. NEVER. They are not a breed whose personality I admire or could tolerate. They are STUPID. And the hand lick thing . . . yeah, that’s a hell of a NO. Other than that they’re pretty and friendly and love EVERYBODY, friend or foe. I did tell you they were stupid, didn’t I? Yeah, DUMB.
I got the bathrobe I was working on finished. It’s going to work just fine. It’s so stretchy my neck doesn’t complain when I put it on. I’m 2/3 done with the belt. Another “sit and knit” and I’ll be done.
And the bad news . . . our rescue kitty has reached the point in her life where her bladder control has failed. She sleeps on the bed and her bladder leaks. On our bed. Ugh. I’ve washed the bed clothes all the way to the mattress (treated with odor solve each time to mediate the problem). This whole thing makes me want to cry. I know she was old when we got her so this isn’t a horrible surprise. At this point she has to be an outside cat. She’s still getting her special food . . . baked chicken and canned tuna . . . and milk (probably not good for her) and that will have to be the “going forward” plan. I can’t wash all the bedclothes and treat the mattress every day. I just can’t. I wish it wasn’t winter. This would be so much easier to accept if it was spring or summer. It makes my heart ache.

Refining the fit

First pairI’ve made one pair of socks and they’re comfortable but a bit loose with wrinkles over the top of my instep. So . . . adjustments.

Because they’re a bit too big around I decreased the number of rows knitted before starting the short rows. From the original calculation of 18 rows I dropped to 17 which reduced the total rows by at least two, possibly as many as four. Fewer rows means fewer stitches which means fewer short row turns which means fewer total rows (SRTs + original rows). The original pattern doesn’t have short rows so if you’re embarking on this project and don’t understand what I did with short rows to level the ankle and toe opening, message me and I’ll draw you a picture.

Second pair topBecause the finished sock had wrinkles across the instep I stopped doing increases for the instep wedge at the start of the short rows. This was marvelously successful. It produced a shorter (from ankle to toe) instep which resulted in a better fit.

Second pair sideThe result of fewer rows produced fewer short rows which produced fewer ankle and toe stitches and shorter instep run giving a better fit.

New sock pattern with adaptation

I’ve tried all sorts of sock patterns; Fleegal, Sockmatician (I joined his brioche kickstarter – an awesome knitter I was delighted to support), Cat Biori’s tomato heel, gusset, bigger gusset. If you’ve followed my blog over the years you already know this. I don’t have a single pair of socks that I’ve knitted and kept. They were all sent to my sister who has lower volume feet (same length). This is the FIRST sock design that’s shown promise for a truly comfortable fit. It’s dead easy to knit. No fuss, nothing difficult (assuming you’re comfortable with short rows) . . . and it was an easy and intuitive adjustment from the original pattern for my short high volume feet.

Short and high volumeI have a horrible time getting shoes and socks that fit. I have insanely short feet with unbelievably high arches. I am not kidding, my foot is shorter in length than the measure around my foot at the arch. 9.5″ around, 8.25″ long. Manufacturers do not make shoes that fit feet like mine. The new barefoot movement has promise but even there the shoes that purport to be made for high volume feet don’t have enough volume.

So . . . socks. As you can guess, socks are also a problem. If they’re the right length they aren’t big enough around. If they are big enough around they hang off my toes.

As writtenI bought two patterns from Cita Steinmeier that hold great promise. They’re both knit the same way from the heel out but with different starts. The bit I don’t care for is the knitting of the heel section ends at an awkward angle where the leg and toe are destined to be knit. In addition, the edges traveled too far up the back of my leg and down the bottom of my foot toward the toe. (I did say insanely short feet with unbelievably high arches. When I had boots made they were judged to be 3FF (US), so . . . yeah . . . totally abnormal.)

The startSo, the fix . . . I started by changing the caston. I did the classic thumb caston (3 stitches) followed by this setup worked in the round.
Round 1. K
Round 2. Inc every stitch
Round 3. K
Round 4. Inc every stitch knitting equally off onto 3 DPNs
Round 5. K

Arch kitcheneredThe original pattern calls for two increases per section every fourth row. I like one increase per section every other row. It’s the same number of increases, just distributed differently. After setup the rows alternate between a row knit without increases a row knit with increases. The increase rows alternate between one increase at the beginning of each of the two sections on each DPN or the end of each of the two sections on each DPN. In other words, one round has an increase at the start of each section, the next increase round has it at the end of each section. I know that seems confusing. Once it’s a work in progress it’s dead simple. Knit one round. Knit the next round with an increase at the start of each section. Knit one round. Knit the next round with an increase at the end of each section. Repeat.

Test fit!When the work was about one inch from closing over the top of my arch I started doing short rows to level the work. The SRTs are separated by three stitches. Work the short row turn on the fourth stitch from the previous turn, stop working SRTs when the section marker is reached. Don’t work any short row turns on the arch portions.

I’m really happy with how this fits.

This works!I think this will work for me. Thank you Cita Steinmeier for the pattern to start me off. (The fat ankle is the result of a horse/carriage accident. Totally my fault. The fat ankle thingy is permanent.)

Frozen yogurt

Wadly brought home some macadamia milk ice cream that’s pretty fabulous. Rocky road. Who can say no to rocky road ice cream? I can’t. But at the price, it’s a complete no-go. With discount it’s nearly $9 a pint. On our budget, in today’s economy . . . no. Just no.

Next Wadly brought home frozen yogurt, fudge flavor. Fabulous! Minus the nuts (macadamias in this case) and marshmallows (the source of the can’t-have soy lecethin) it is as good as the macadamia milk rocky road at a fraction of the price. Progress! Yogurt is a pretty easy thing to duplicate at home so . . . why not try?

So, I’ve been making instant pot yogurt and turning it into frozen yogurt and it’s pretty fabulous. The recipe is dead simple. Two cups of yogurt, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (use the Dutch processed), 1/3 cup honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Mix it in my stand mixer until smooth and stick it in the ice cream maker. Yup, it really is that simple. And fabulous.

Recipes on the internet call for a lot more sweetner but it really isn’t necessary.

Now I just need to source the macadamia nut pieces and marshmallows that don’t have soy and I’ll have rocky road ice cream! On it!

On my needles

This morning a FB knitting group had a “what’s on your needles” post which caused me to realize I haven’t been documenting what I’m working on. Prepare for a long post!

Preparing to frog

This is on hold for a partial frog. The neck is too tall (I’ll frog it from the top) and the intended recipient has gained quite a bit of weight which means the cable bottom will no longer work.

I will frog it back to 3″ below armscye, add increases and replace the cable bottom with a narrow twisted cable/rib hem. The sleeve is also too tight so I’m frogging back to armhole, knitting to the elbow without decreasing and knitting a cable hem to finish.

This project has been a complete knit from the hip project (the kind of project I love) and has had problems from the start.

In a single yarn order I got two very different dye lots, one a darker skein I didn’t notice until I had knit up the neck in one of the lighter skeins. The shade was so different I couldn’t helix knit and solve the problem. It literally looked striped. Frog. I put the dark skein at the start and ended it when the neck cables ended. This lets the color management look marginally deliberate. With all the test knitting and integrating increases and the dye lot mess I think I frogged the neck three or four times.

The yarn is Paintbox in Racing Green knitted up on US6 needles. I ordered it from LoveCrafts. In the future I will watch more carefully to ensure I’ve received all the same dye lot.

Half the yarn used and it’s hip length

This one has been a bit of a long term project. I love the colors. This is Louisa Harding’s Girandola in Mondivo and Bamboo Pop in Denim knitted up on US3 needles. The skeins are 612 yards each and I started with two skeins of this color. The result at the left is one skein and a tiny bit of the second. I work on this project when I need a rest from all the others I’m juggling. It’s a pet and admire project. I knit for a while, stop and admire the colors and how well the Denim matches one of the blues in the Mondovino.

I would love to have another skein of Mondovino in a matching dye lot but so far, no joy. Ideally I would like the duster to be mid-calf length but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The one batch of Mondivo I’ve found has such a difference in dye lot it is the equivalent of taking a picture of the same item with light on and light off.

I’m going to knit up this last skein and make a nice wide seed stitch hem in Denim. I’m thinking that’s the best I’m going to be able to manage.


Reknit to add Sinfonia Azure and the remainder of the yellow

I’m on the homeward bound stretch on this one after a number of upsets. I got the body done and one sleeve complete and had Mindy test fit. It was not long enough and the sleeve had negative ease. Mindy’s like me and likes loose and comfortable.

At this point I had a bit of a panic as frogging the body to the armpits was going to be heart breaking. The pockets were done and they were beautiful! Ack! So I set it aside to ponder the fix.

I was really short on the orange yarn needed to lengthen the body and make the sleeves wider. I doubted I could get close enough to the original dye lot so ordering more of the Cascade Ultra Fine wasn’t really an option. Mindy really liked the little bit of Sinfonia in Azure I’d gotten from a friend’s destash, so I ordered a skein from Creative Yarn Source. I love Sinfonia (it doesn’t shed like the Cascade Ultra Fine and comes in a skein instead of a hank) and ordered yarn for two sweaters in addition to the Azure.

Beautiful pockets

While waiting for my yarn order I had an epiphany. I don’t need to frog my pockets! I can cut and splice! I can Kitchener! What an easy solution!

Then I hit a bit of a slowdown. The one skein of yarn I needed was on back order, reportedly 3-4 weeks out from delivery. In the interim I frogged the sleeve and set the project aside.

When the back ordered yarn arrived surgery was performed and the sweater was in two pieces. The addition of the blue and using up the last of the yellow gave me the length I needed. I am likely to have left over orange as a result. Once the sleeves are finished I’ll Kitchener the bottom to the top.

Double sided neck band

I really love how this sweater is coming out. The colors are beautiful and all the additional touches add to the love. The conti-raglan shoulders fit beautifully. The double-sided neck band is a couture touch I just love. The pockets came out perfect!

I’ve got three or four more projects on needles. When I clear the deck of these three I’ll drag them out for review. One’s a navy to white gradient and navy bamboo fingering held together. One is very small start in Great Barrier Reef cotton in Wineglass Bay I may frog and reknit for a friend of Mindy’s. One is a 4-ply cotton dress that’s at the boring stage, miles and miles of stockinette. I pretty sure there’s at least one more lurking in my WIP box waiting for my attention. I also have an open vest request from a very close friend. She wants the cable neck in Paintbox Racing Green (yes, I got all the same dye lot this time) and the body of my short duster. It should be a fairly quick and fun knit. Reminder, I need to check with her about pockets.


The Fail, the second act

Picking the stripeSo as not to repeat my first fail, testing will be required.

I need a bold and visible stripe for my plaid, not Silken  used in my first attempt, a really lovely color but just not right for this.  I tested a bunch of possibles and chose Rose. It’s bright, clear, stands out nicely against the Midnight background and will stand out on the variegated  squares.

Next I have to pick the yarn to use for the squares. I want each square to be variegated, unique and to stand out from the base. It can’t have a color in it that’s going to blend into my Midnight base like the purple in Khaki Girl.

Two of the auditioned yarns don’t have enough variegation/contrast to make them viable candidates. Left to right: Brilliant Blues, Cotton Candy, Soothe, Orchid Smash (out), Hot Spot (out), Frosty Morning and the Rose for the stripes. I’ve got a TINY bit of On Parade (discontinued, picture me crying) that might make a square (fingers crossed).

So, time for a little test knit . . . it’s lovely . . . and again a complete fail. Ugh. I was loving this . . . up until my plaid block ran into my vneck ribbing. Yeah, not loving that so much.

So, the next challenge is plaid placement. In my original scheme I had exactly one stitch to work with. Planning that tightly doesn’t make me happy. Have a gross math fail (plaid running into ribbing) also doesn’t make me happy.

Making the blocks smaller isn’t going to make me happy. The red stripe is already borderline overwhelming the variegated color blocks. I could move the start of the plaid down which doesn’t please me. If I could do anything I’d make the blocks two stitches wider as a better balance to the boldness of the Rose stripe. Alternatively, I could be less square! There’s a lovely thought.

So this is the new plan. I didn’t draw in the stripes but rest assured they will be there. If I can make the blocks 2 stitches wider at the same time, I think I’m golden. I’m going to lay out the new colorwork on the existing project and see where my lines, squares and rectangles hit. If the layout works I’m off to the races!


Day dress fail

Day dress fail
Fit is awesome, skirt fabric isn’t.
I made a robe out of fleece. I didn’t like the fit of the top (pretty standard for me), the fact that it had sleeves, pulled on the back of my neck . . . the usual. So I knit a yoke and it fits great! Uh, except the fabric has some sort of synthetic in it. If I sweat at all I break out in a rash. Ugh. Fail. I’ll pull the yoke and put it on something else.

OMGosh! So good! Parsnip and turnip breakfast hash!

I really enjoy using older kitchen equipment. I have an old KitchenAid K5-A fixed stand mixer I use often. I bought it used in an inoperable state and repaired it. I use it to mix bread and cookie dough a couple times a week. I have a Universal 2 meat grinder (just got it! Woot!) I use for making pork patties, and that’s just the start of what I’ll use it for. SO exciting, the possibilities! I have an old manual WearEver food processor I use pretty much daily for grating cheese (nachos) and vegetables for soup. I only have two of the five cylinders (fine and coarse grate) but will definitely be hunting down the others.

Having such a nice variety of old tools expands my cooking.

We don’t eat a lot of potatoes. They make Wadly’s joints ache and they’re a bit difficult for me to digest, so they’re eaten just a couple times a month as a treat. That means more frequent meals like chowder, fries and hash have got to have remakes to make them great menu choices. I’ve got the chowder figured out (it’s truly awesome, one of our favorite meals), fries are in the works and hash is now having it’s day in the sun! OMGosh, SO good! I will fix this menu item regularly, it’s that good!

So, this morning I’m having breakfast hash. OMGosh. This is a keeper recipe! No boiling vegetables, not a lot of chopping or dicing! Fast AND easy, my favorite kind of recipe!

In an iron skillet add butter, freshly ground pepper, coarsely grated (not diced, equal amounts of) parsnip, turnip and carrot, chopped green onion (low FODMAP, no white parts), finely chopped red pepper and bacon. Throw all of those in the pan and cook on medium high, stirring often, until tender. OMGosh! SO good! The true challenge with this dish is to not eat it all by yourself! Please note I’m practicing great restraint to leave Wadly some for his breakfast.

Awesome low FODMAP Nachos

I had the best nachos tonight. The recipe makes enough for two and it’s completely low FODMAP.

Brown 1 lb of hamburger. Drain the fat (or not).

  • 1/4 tsp Ancho Chili Powder (not mixed chili, make sure it’s just Ancho and nothing else).
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup liquid (I use home made bone broth, you can use water or any broth that suits you)
  • Simmer until reduced.

    While the meat and spices are reducing lay the corn chips out on your plate. Grate cheddar cheese over the top and heat to melt the cheese. I use the microwave but an oven would work as well.

    Once the meat has reduced, spread it over the chips. Add sliced olives, green onions and more cheese. Heat to melt the cheese and enjoy!

The beauty of organization

I’m a process knitter. I don’t work off a written pattern. I create as I go. I figure out what I want to do and start from the top and glory in doing my own thing. It makes me happy. I’m not horribly unusual in the way I do things. I know people who work the same way and I feel I’m in really good company.

In my other life I’m a programmer. I’ve been doing it for years and it’s something I enjoy. I love puzzles and programming in php/mysql is like solving a puzzle. I figure out what I want to come out the other end and off I go.

So here’s how the knitting and the programming mesh.

I wrote a program to give me the calcs for knitting my top down sweaters. It works like this.

I enter my measurements. My measurements pretty much don’t change so this is a one-time thing. Once it’s done, it’s done!

I enter create a record of the project I want to work with using my swatch info for my preferred yarn/needle combo, a record of the yarn I’m using, how much drop I want for the back neck, how much ease I think the garment should have and I’m done. Truly, that’s it.

Then I run the programming. It applies the calcs I have worked out for my conti-something base using my measurements, the SPI/RPI derived from the swatch I knitted on the needle size I prefer and I have sweater calcs! I’m ready to cast on for my sweater in the amount of time it takes me to set my preferences. Yup, it’s really that simple! Organization and automation are truly beautiful things and programming ROCKS!

Here’s what my fun times look like. This isn’t all the projects I’ve done. I’ve got a tunic length henley that’s lovely to wear and other stuff I knit before I did the programming gig. Enjoy!

4-ply blue WIP

This will finish in a dress length. The goal is to use up all this very unique yarn. I’m pecking away at this when I’m in a position I can’t work anything complicated. I have miles and miles of very boring stockinette to go!

Mindy loves it so it’s all good! This was a fun knit. The yarn (Valley Yarns Goshen) is a lovely cotton/modal/silk combo with a very nice sheen.
Sunset Vneck

Sunset on the farm, knitted up in Scheepjes Softfun Denim!
Bolero Cardi (WIP)

WIP in Valley Yarns Goshen. All that’s left is the hem. I’ll get there . . . eventually. I’m balking just a bit at the cardigan . . . I may just sew the front shut. I think I’ll like it better . . .
Too Much Sunset (using Sunset on the Farm vneck numbers)

This is all the yarn left over from the Sunset on the Farm vneck. I had a lot of yarn to use up! Okay, okay. I *still* have yarn to use up. The sun took less than a yard of two different colors! The only color I ran out of after this was done was navy.