My daughter goes to a great school. But the bussing situation stinks, so I have to pick her up from school. Their parking lot is small, so I could sit in line with the other cars wasting gas and holding up traffic on Acadian Thruway, or I can park in the parking lot which the folks next door graciously let us use, walk up to the bench she walks by on the way to the bit of sidewalk car riders wait on, and sit down to knit while I wait.
Guess which one I choose.
Well, it just so happens that other people notice me knitting on that bench. Like the kindergarteners, first graders, second graders . . . you get the idea. Last year an extremely precocious preschooler befriended me out of fascination, so I taught him to finger knit. He spent most of his nap times for the remainder of the year in a corner working quietly with yarn.
His mother is a biologist, and when she saw the March-April 2013 edition of American Scientist magazine, she immediately thought of me. She passed it along, and I'm so glad she did.
In the cover article, "Adventures in Mathematical Knitting," sarah-marie belcastro (smbelcas on Ravelry) discusses the thinking behind knitted mathematical object design, beginning with the why. Turns out she's thought about this quite a bit. Like, published a journal article and two books about it. That much.
And it's fascinating.
She takes care to make objects whose inner and outer skins are continuous in identically reversible fabric, so both sides look the same. Conversely, she makes sure to knit objects whose sides are mathematically distinct in stitch patterns which have non-identical sides. She knits graphs into her shapes, or works stripes highlighting certain of their aspects. And there's more.
Cowls inspired by diagrams in textbooks (page 52). Hats inspired by Klein bottles (that one's still in the works). Oh yes, you can wear these mathematical objects!
I find this exciting in the same way that Lynne Barr's books thrill me. No surprise that smbelcas is a member of the Ravelry group for fans of Lynne Barr. They both challenge the limitations of a single strand of yarn.
Colorwork for Adventurous Knitters by Lori Ihnen, photography by Corean Komarec, pub. Creative Publishing international, Inc., 2012.
When my daughter saw the title of this book, she exclaimed, "Mama, that's you!" But the title doesn't refer to knitters like me, rather to knitters who only have experience with single-color knitting and are wanting to go beyond. My first project was a striped baby blanket, so this mindset is alien to me, but I understand it exists, and this book is a valuable resource for such people.
Actually, it's a valuable resource for anyone---even fearful knitters---who would like to try a more controlled use of color than is available with variegated yarns. Ihnen starts slowly, with stripes, offering stitch patterns with a more complex appearance than plain straight-across stripes, tips for working stripes in rib or in the round, and three easy projects to whet the appetite for what's to come.
Photography is clear, though faces tend to be better lit than the knitted item and there are some dubious styling choices. But I would not buy this book for the projects (though some are truly fetching). I would buy it for the colorwork instruction.
This book is loaded with clear photos of techniques as they are being worked and after they have been finished---right side and wrong side---and tips to straighten them up if they look a little wonky.
It covers stripes, slip-stitch colorwork ("mosaic knitting"), stranding (including fair isle and steeking), intarsia (including intarsia mixed with stranded knitting), and embellishments such as embroidery.
Ihnen lays out the different techniques in a straightforward way, explaining various methods of working each one and including bonus material (like spit splicing!) along the way.
She covers the pros and cons of using various methods and suggests instances where one might be appropriate and others when another might work better.
If she seems to oversimplify in a couple of cases, or if her wording is less than felicitous at times, this book is still the best resource I have found for beginning colorwork.
The Child's Cardigan at left and the Intarsia Owl Hat above are two projects out of the 16 in this book that I would consider making. Since these are supposed to be introductions to each technique (as opposed to lengthy and involved conversations), the projects tend to be small: coasters, bags, and pillows which do not call for much in the way of sizing options.
Colorwork for Adventurous Knitters is also spiral bound, so it will lay flat without coaxing. Congratulations to Lori Ihnen and Creative Publishing for turning out a well-thought-out book!
Disclosure: This copy of Colorwork for Adventurous Knitters is from Kangath's library. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Creative Publishing international or Lori Ihnen.
I love the Palm Leaf Wrap I made, and I finally have photos of it to show you. It was especially important to me to get photos because in a few weeks I won't have the actual object. It's intended for someone else, someone who loves everything I knit. (No, not you, sweet husband.)
I ended up seaming every other leaf as suggested in the pattern for the "capelet fit." I especially enjoy the way the leaves cuddle my shoulders this way.
Look for a review of the book this came from, Loop-d-Loop Lace, in a future post.
This morning we had my daughter's favorite pancakes:
Cottage cheese pancakes. Sounds crazy, I know. Just add cottage cheese to regular pancake batter and fry as usual. Add just a little or so much that the batter is mostly cottage cheese---it comes out great either way. Even if you don't like cottage cheese you might like these. The cheese adds a decent amount of protein, so with fruit (strawberries are in season here now, believe it or not) it makes a balanced meal. I made the batter with kefir instead of buttermilk, and you can see how fluffy they turned out. Yum!
This is my unblocked version of Teva Durham's Palm Leaf Wrap.
And here it is pinned out for blocking.
Because my son keeps fish, I happen to know the pH of my tap water is extremely basic, so I dissolved a couple tablespoons of acetic acid along with a drop of gentle detergent in cold water to wash the wrap. I regularly do this with red and purple yarns to prevent bleeding because of our water's pH. This tip came from Jill Draper, when I had trouble with a dye that wouldn't stop running when rinsed in plain water.
After washing, I laid the wrap out on a couple of towels which were on a carpet remnant on our carpeted floor. I carefully pinned each lobe of the leaf and the two points below each leaf. I can hardly wait for it to dry.
The Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica that I used is a slightly lighter weight than called for in the pattern. It's a thick-and-thin yarn (just what it sounds like) which I thought would lend rusticity to the design. It's also kettle dyed, resulting in subtle tonal variegation which adds dimension to the color. Plus, I just love the company and its fair trade values. Recently I've been trying to stick to buying fair trade or organic yarn.
It's not a sacrifice.
The camping buddy of the mother of the former associate principal third violin of the string orchestra my son used to belong to told me that the craft supply giant Knit Picks had sent people to Grafton Fibers to spy on the production process used to make Darn Pretty Needles. (The camping buddy also owned a yarn store in town, which is why I'm taking her gossip seriously.)
Knit Picks copied some or all of the Darn Pretty process (I boycotted Knit Picks after hearing that news) and subsequently sued Knitter's Pride for copying them! That's as funny as Andrew Lloyd Webber suing a less famous composer for sounding like Bach. Maybe funnier.
Knitter's Pride won, by the way, and I had been avoiding the purchase of their needles until recently. But my local yarn store loves them and often that's the only wooden needle they carry. Plus, the store that used to stock Darn Prettys closed. So I tried some circular Knitter's Prides (the green ones at left) and found them different enough from my circular Darn Prettys (the brown ones) to warrant purchasing more.
I love my Darn Pretty double pointed needles, but I have been frustrated with my circulars. The first one I owned had a glob of something where the needle joined the cable, and it snagged on everything I knit with it. The store owner offered to exchange it for another, but the replacement wasn't ordered immediately and then it took so long for to come in that I traded it for a different size. This different size developed a snaggy spot on the needle itself near the join, but by that time the yarn store was closed and Grafton's website had become unnavigable. I'm just dealing with it now, but I'll eventually have to replace that needle, which is a real drag. I did try sanding it, and it helped, but I can't seem to get it just right.
The Knitter's Pride circulars have metal connecting the needle to the cable, which alleviates both problems. The cable is also more flexible than the one on the Pony circular I bought while avoiding Knitter's Pride. But I will knit with chopsticks if that's the only thing available. That's just the way I am.
I don't have a photo of it yet, but I finished the Palm Leaf Wrap this past weekend.
I guess bulky lace can get done rather quickly.
I've been using Knitter's Pride needles for this and the frock coat. Both needles were the same color as their projects, but these raspberry size 13's remind my husband of walking stick insects in their camouflage.
More about Knitter's Pride needles (and a photo of the finished wrap) soon.
The Shape of Knitting by Lynne Barr, photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy,
pub. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013
This book begins with over 25 innovative projects to knit, but (though cute, wearable, and knittable) they are not the meat of the content. Halfway through the book, we realize that the scarves and slippers were merely whetting our appetites for the main course: Techniques.
This last half of the book is devoted to explaining in detail the techniques found in the preceding patterns---and in some cases, their creative origins. Lynne's explanations even of commonly used techniques (such as the long-tailed cast-on) are valuable because they include not merely the how, but the why and the what as well. Information about stretchiness and stability are paired with analyses of the look of the completed procedure.
Lynne deals with cast-ons and bind-offs, decreases and increases (including the wonderfully simple speed increase) in this way. Then it's time for dessert. (Can it be dessert and main course at the same time?)
The first meaty treat (maybe pumpkin pie---that always has enough eggs or tofu in it to count for protein) is the chapter on three-dimensional knitting, as featured in the Dimpled Cowl. In this chapter Lynne covers combining and dividing stitches in a much more thorough way than she was able to do in Reversible Knitting, which was essentially a stitch dictionary.
She details 14 different ways to make a pleat (and gives a couple stitch patterns to use them in), 2 ways to work short rows, and a basic hem or casing with variations.
Then comes the whipped cream.
Lynne has developed a way to knit multiple units with an uninterrupted strand of yarn. She designed Square Arches in one piece, not as separate pieces sewn together or even picked up and knit. The technique is similar to the way you might knit a sideways edging onto a shawl, and she presents several variations.
Speaking of slippers, there are several interesting footwear patterns in this book. They seem just right for wearing on my cold hardwood floors in springtime.
Slippers are an even smaller project than socks, and provide many opportunities for learning new techniques. Another small project is the Fringe Headband (below) which will be one of the very next things I cast on.
I really like this High Profile Top, too. Maybe I'll add some sleeves to it to make the fun last longer.
Along the lines of small projects, there's also a necklace and a pair of mittens, not to mention the two hats, two bags, and two, um, eyeshade patterns. I was actually pretty unhappy to see those eyeshade patterns because I had plans to design some of my own. Now I'll just have to give them an unusual twist.
Disclosure: Stewart, Tabori & Chang sent Kangath a free copy of The Shape of Knitting for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Stewart, Tabori & Chang or Lynne Barr.
Yesterday I made muffins with quinoa flour. It was an impulse buy. I hardly ever do those. I just saw it in the store and ended up going home with it.
The muffins are delicious, with subtle nutty overtones. But I wasn't sure they were going to be, because when I opened the quinoa flour I got a perplexing broccoli-like whiff. I almost zipped up the bag and put it away without using it. Almost.
I decided to use just a half cup of the stuff, and it adds to the flavor without overpowering it.
Here's my recipe:
Cranberry Quinoa Muffins
1 1/2 cups rolled oats*
2 oranges, juice and flesh
1/3 cup milk or rice milk
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, optional
1/4 cup cane syrup, maple syrup, or honey**
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup frozen cranberries
Put first 6 ingredients in a bowl, mix together, and let stand while you make tomorrow's sack lunches (or something else productive (or relaxing--why not? maybe a nice 20-minute nap?)). Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Separately mix last 5 ingredients, then blend the wet mixture with the dry. Put in prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!
*I used oats from the local farmer's market, which are technically crimped, not rolled.
**I used cane syrup from the same market, but use whatever's local.
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