Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stitch 'n Pitch 2011

Last night I went to the Stitch 'n Pitch with some of my knitting friends. It was an evening of overpriced beer and snacks, sweltering heat in the stadium (sticky legs on plastic chairs!), lots of knitters, lots of knitting (and a little crochet), knitting goody bags, and... oh yeah, I guess a baseball game was going on. The following picture, provided by SeekUp, pretty much sums it up:

I didn't bring my camera, but the pictures from last year's game are still fairly accurate, except we had a group of 7 knitters and one crocheter this year. The Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 11-6.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Magnum Opus or The Cardigan That Almost Killed Me

Sometimes you just need a project that tests every knitterly skill you have. A project that takes you months, and where you utter more curse-words than would be appropriate in polite company. A project that you know will look amazing in the end, but along the way makes you wonder if it's worth it... And oh, it's worth it. As Brenda Dayne puts it, it's your Magnum Opus.

Mine has been the Emma cardigan, designed by Janine Le Cras. It is easily the best thing I have ever knit.

It started off innocently enough, with 630 yards of the lightest yarn I've ever used, Fantastic Knitting Zephyr Laceweight. The top begun with a provisional cast-on and some eyelet lace... simple enough, but once I got to the lower lace portion... well, let's just say that that's when the cursing really started.

Each row is a lace row (knitted lace as opposed to lace knitting) with no plain purl row between, and the stitch count was at way over 200 stitches, and so it took me about an hour to complete each row. It was full of p2togtbls and other such stitches... but begrudgingly, I must admit that the result is well worth the trouble. Blocked, it became the drapiest, most beautiful piece of fabric I've ever created.

By the time I got to the sleeves, I was running dangerously low on yarn. Instead of the big puffy sleeves in the pattern, I went instead with capped sleeves finished with eyelets through which I put an elastic ribbon. These were achieved by picking up the same number of stitches as in the pattern and doing the same short-row shaping without the increases between the short rows. I also only had 32 stitches between the short rows. After knitting the edging around the neck and the button band, I had 0.4 grams of the yarn left, so it's probably a good thing that I didn't go any farther with the sleeves.

My one small regret is that I didn't quite make the upper portion of the cardigan long enough. I was hoping that I'd be able to use it to modestly cover my bosom when wearing a low-cut dress, but in order to have the ribbon go under my bust, I have to rearrange my bust so that there's major cleavage going on. Oh well, it's a flaw I can live with. Everything else about the cardigan I love... The buttons are perfect, I adore the capped sleeves and that lace... oh that lace...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Prize-Winning Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins

Every now and then I go through my picture folders and I find something I really should have blogged about ages ago. This morning, I found some photographs of some very tasty muffins I made way back in March for the department muffin competition. There were a lot of very delicious entries, including some fantastic zucchini muffins and even some bacon muffins. I opted for a sweeter flavour and went with a (then) recently-discovered recipe from Bittersweet: her Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins.

I followed the recipe almost exactly, except I substituted non-vegan yogurt for the vegan kind because I couldn't find any in my supermarket. That's ok, I wouldn't even come close to calling myself a vegan. Anyway, I ended up winning! The muffins had a beautiful zesty flavour, and when I tasted the batter before baking, I could almost feel it sparkling on my tongue.

My favourite part was the sugary poppy-seed topping. It was sort of like icing on a cupcake (but healthier of course because it's a muffin). I think next time I might try it with orange flavouring instead of lemon... that'd be nice.