Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Elizabeth Hat, With Some Extra Love

I am very much a sweater knitting kind of girl, but I needed a hat for very practical reasons. Prior to this hat, I was wearing a raggedy crocheted hat made by Burton. How could a knitter wear something that looks handmade but isn't handmade? I guess the biggest reason was that none of the hats I made in the past were warm enough - yes, they were very cute looking, but it couldn't withstand my wet hair and the cold wind tunnels. Also, my head is shaped like a bowling ball, so most hats are too long but not wide enough! The solution? I made the Elizabeth Hat, a cabled hat that requires the use of bulky weight yarn. Thicker yarn + cabling = more elasticity = more room for my giant head! The pattern itself was very generously posted on Ravelry for free. I used a skein of leftover yarn from my Corona, plus an alpaca tweed that I picked up at Rhinebeck. For some reason, this tweed just wants to be double stranded with something else, instead of a standalone - I used the majority of the tweed making this - it's the warmest sweater I own, so I thought it would be perfect for this hat. The hat was completed within one roundtrip work commute on the subway, and I was happy wearing it as it was originally designed, except that it got too stretchy over time and the alpaca was really itchy - I needed a barrier! So, I knit myself a little woolen band using my smallest DPNs (#1s). I used a provisional cast on, making the width of the band slightly smaller than the 2 x 2 ribbing of the hat. The length was determined by me wrapping the band around my head, stopping when it was snug. I then did a three needle bind off with the two live ends, creating a loop. Lastly, I turned the hat inside out, put the lining around the outside, and sewed it in place. Done! It was some extra work, but it was well worth the effort. Now I'll have a hat that I will actually wear for its practical AND aesthetic value - imagine that!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Your Thoughts on Kombucha?

I was first introduced to this weirdness a couple of weeks ago by my boyfriend's sister. It is a fermented beverage that touts a laundry list of health properties including a boosted immune system and better circulation, among other virtues. And like most things, I will give anything a go at least once, so I tried it. For having zero expectations on what it was going to taste like, I was taken somewhat aback. It smelled and tasted what I imagine an unwashed foot would taste like. It was very acidic, tart, slightly carbonated, very much like vinegar. At the time I was not so cool with it and didn't have a second sip; less than a week later however, I found myself at the drink aisle of the grocery store picking up another bottle. I don't know really know why; I felt like it couldn't get the best of me, maybe. It also reminded me a bit of Natto, which I happen to love. (For people who don't know, Natto is a Japanese dish of fermented soybeans that is also supposed to be very good for you. Definitely an acquired taste - you have to be brain-washed into loving it from infancy, although there are some lovers of Natto who tried it in adulthood, but they tend to be kind of quirky to begin with.) I'm at my third bottle, and I still don't know if I hate it or slightly like it. The health benefits are also a bit hazy - it's either raved about as the next panacea, or it's a hazard that caused liver failure and deadly allergic reactions. Any thoughts?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Has Arrived!

The good weather is always a motivator - some stuff that I have been doing as of late:

Make vanilla extract... I will tell you the results in 6 months. I found out how to do it here.

Been eating way too much - my days of running 6 miles a day and doing sports year-round are long gone! I have been trying to do much more manageable, low impact exercises using The Ball. It's harder than it looks. Then again, I may be horribly out of shape.

Those crazy non-gluten eaters. I tried giving this a try. I don't know how I feel about it yet. Maybe over time, I'll love it, but right now I like the idea of it more than the taste.

I have not been out of the United States since 2006. This is a problem for me. I daydream of places to go when I should be working. But, I managed to book a flight to Bogota for late July - it's only 6 hrs from NYC. Soooo excited!

I am not a big jewelry person, so when I got a gift certificate to Tiffanys, I wasn't too thrilled. I kept the gift certificate for a year before I decided on getting the Frank Gehry Fish. Simple and not too frou-frou, so I think I can leave it on and forget about it!

My current fast food obsession - $3 falafels at Oasis, off the Bedford stop on the L - 161 North 7th Street - yum, yum. I've been dragging everyone I know there. Yes, I am a food evangelist.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Modified Elaine's Blouse

Excuse the mess in the background! I finished this sweater last Saturday, but with all of the guests we've had, there has been no time to take pictures of my most recent completed project (or clean the apartment, for that matter)... The basic pattern for this came out of the Winter 2008 Interweave Knits, called the Elaine Blouse. I didn't alter the basic pattern very much - the biggest modification is the cable pattern in the front. I lifted that pattern directly from here, which was originally designed to be an afghan square. I used Joseph Galler Superfine Prime Alpaca Yarn that I got at the Yarn Tree in Brooklyn. I was hoping to make this sweater without having to buy another cone (one cone has 665 yards in it) and I am happy to report that I was successful! I was unsuccessful in NOT buying another cone, however - I went back and bought two more cones for another project that is in the works. Something about the feel of alpaca - I can't get enough of it! I'm slightly obsessed. My previous alpaca projects have been hats and scarves for the most part, as I have heard that Alpaca has the tendency to grow horizontally after washing/blocking. Luckily, that has not happened to me as of yet. Giddiness aside, I am not sure if the ribbing is placed appropriately or is very flattering on my non-womanly figure, but overall the sweater is comfortable, not itchy, hasn't pilled, and was all done under $30. Can't beat that. Oh, and I also love the non-functional buttons up the back! Courtesy of M&J.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Climbing Vines Pullover

Why is it that you want things you can't have, but if you think about them long enough, it somehow happens? The stars were in alignment when I came across this pattern in the Winter 2008 Interweave Knits - for the longest time, I had wanted a similar version of this sweater I saw by Phildar. Their version is in French, and I tried to buy it through the link they posted without much luck. Plus, my French is pretty lousy, so even if I somehow managed to obtain the pattern, I probably wouldn't be able to figure it out! So lucky for me that they came out with something comparable. The finished product you see is actually my second attempt at this sweater using Beaverslide worsted weight yarn that is a blend of merino and mohair. My first sweater I had to frog; it was also through Beaverslide, and it was also worsted weight, but made entirely of wool. Because the fiber wasn't as soft, I couldn't get a small gauge, and my sweater came out big, too big to block into submission, unfortunately. It did give me an opportunity to practice the vine pattern however, so I'm not too upset about it. (The frogged yarn is now in the process of being made into the Shalom Cardigan, as the project requires a big gauge.) The biggest challenge for this project was that the length of the sweater is pretty much decided for you, because you had to stop the pattern repeat in a certain place in order to make the neckline. My sweater came out a little shorter than I had wanted; if I were to make the pattern again, I would do a provisional cast-on for the bottom, so that I could have the option of adding on more length later. I also did garter stitch across the entire front, and I also made the neckline higher and not so wide. I avoided seaming like I usually do by doing a three needle bind off for the shoulders, then picked up stitches and did short-rows for the sleeves. I left the sleeve bottoms unfinished by not doing the ribbing - I am still not sure how I feel about that yet, so it may be altered later. I kind of like the rolled-edge look, but since it's not rolled in any other place, I don't know if it works...