Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Afghan 2.2 (Plus a New Project)

I got to the end of the skein on the afghan and will be picking up more in the next week. I did add a couple more inches to it before I ran out. It is more at 27" than 27.5" or 28" like it appears in the photo.



I did cast on for the hat for this pattern:


Both the pattern and the yarn have been burning a hole in my head... or something. The same way money burns a hole in a pocket... You know.
I wanted to get started on part of this pattern since I'd really like to enter part or preferably all of it in the county fair this summer.
I'll be using a silvery gray for the ties. I have some of my Regia leftover from the sweater I made in October and I think it would provide a nice contrast to all the dark green. I also think it would look really nice with those little bells at the end of a gray cord.

The pattern is so easy and I love the look it creates. I might make it my go-to baby gift pattern if I like how the rest of it turns out.

As always, see more by clicking below:
  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ribbed Bind Off, or Teaching a Stubborn Dog New Tricks

So I'm working on an adorable baby pattern at the moment since I ran out of yarn on the afghan last week.

I got to the bind off on the hood and the pattern instructed a ribbed bind off. I am stubborn you guys. I've done plenty of patterns that called for a ribbed bind off that I simply cut corners with and bound off the only way I knew how. At long last, I decided to suck it up and learn how to do a ribbed bind off. And you know what? It was super easy.

And it looks so much better than a normal bind off:

Check back Wednesday for a better photo...


I found instructions online that just said, Purl on the purled stitches before binding off, and knit on the knit stitches before binding off that stitch.

I thought, that can't be right. It's too... Easy.

But you know what, it really is as easy and simple as it sounds. Okay. Go ahead. It's your turn now.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Visit to the Yarn Bank

I finally had an opportunity to go to Yarn Bank in Taylor's Falls, MN.
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I am discovering that yarn shopping is not just exciting for the knitter or crocheter. It is exciting for everyone who likes to touch, look, even smell things (the last one isn't really my thing, but...) Yarn shopping is like going on vacation to a sensory wonderland.

OK, back to Yarn Bank. I had my kids with me. Kids love to touch things. I have decided after this experience that if their gloves are on, don't take them off because not having the ability to touch yarn takes a lot of the fun and mischief out of their visit and yours.

Yarn Bank was very kid-tolerant. God bless them. The shop looks small on the outside but it was spacious on the inside. This seems to be a theme with yarn shops: excellent use of space. There is a knitting area in the middle of the store, and the rest of the layout has yarn around the walls and a back room for super chunky and sock yarns.

There is a discount basket next to the register with yarn for 50% off.

My finds:


I actually bought four skeins of the Plymouth Baby DK. I love the oatmeal-y color of the Cascade too. Definitely thinking of keeping that for a selfish project.

Yarn Bank also has a program set up where you get a card (not a credit card), and they keep track of how much you spend. After the first $200, you get a discount for your next purchase. (Of course I signed up...)

Until next time, happy shopping, happy knitting!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this by the store featured, or anyone else. Opinions are my own.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yarn Review Monday 14: Patons North America Grace

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

The yarn: Patons North America Grace
  • 100% cotton
  • 1.76oz, 50 grams,  136.0 yards, 124.4m
  • Colorways: Cardinal and Lavender

The project: Fred and George Socks by Rachel Coopey. Published in Interweave Knits' Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. This book cover pattern.



What I liked: Doesn't split when knitting. Durable yarn, no weak spots on the sock anywhere even after repeated wash and wear for the last 7-8 months. I also like how durable it is for the book cover. It is on a very old missal (published in about 1940) and I am able to carry it in my order with confidence that it is protecting the book.


What I didn't like: This yarn stretches a lot. A. LOT. The book cover was tight when I made it. I don't use the book often and it barely fits anymore. The sock is so flabby on my foot even after it gets worn straight out of the wash. "You should really stop skipping your test swatches, Christine." Yeah, I should, and I actually did do one for the book. I wasn't exactly planning on washing the book cover though, and haven't yet, so in that case the swatch really would not have helped in planning around the stretching problem.

Affordability: About $5.50/skein.


Rating: We all know what I think about knitting socks so I don't really see myself using it a lot for that particular purpose. However, I also didn't like what it did after use as the book cover, so while this is really durable yarn I don't see myself really using it again unfortunately.















Previous yarn reviews:
Bernat Boa ( Eyelash yarn; "unofficial" yarn review)
Berroco Vintage (TM) Chunky
Caron Simply Soft Solids and Simply Soft Light
Cascade 220 Sport Weight
Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky Sprinkles
DGB Confetti
Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand
JoAnns Sensations Soles and More
Madelinetosh DK
Paton's Classic Wool
Plymouth Yarns Galway (TM) Worsted
Red Heart and Sole
Regia Angora
Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Scallops and Risotto

For St. Valentine's Day my husband decided to plan something really big. For the first time since we've been together. Which isn't long, but we have never done the  stereotypical Valentine's Day festivities.

I realized right away that I needed to step up my game and decided to plan a special dinner for the two of us. This is a big deal since I suck at meal planning and cooking interesting things in general.
So I decided on sautéed scallops and risotto after I came across this risotto recipe on Pinterest. I've never made either before but hey, go big or go home, right?

I promptly called my mother for a scallop recipe she'd made a few years ago that I really liked.

The scallop recipe (yields 4 servings, I made half the recipe):
From the cookbook Ode to Joyous Cooking
1 1/2lbs bay or sea scallops, rinsed and dried
All purpose flour, seasoned with pepper
4 Tbsp butter unsalted
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove
Lemon juice
1/4c chopped parsley


  1. Dredge scallops in flour mixture. Melt butter and oil in skillet until foamy. Sauté garlic for 2 minutes.
  2. Add scallops and increase heat to medium-high. Sauté, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Do not overcook.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over scallops and sprinkle with parsley.
Variation: Once scallops are browned, remove to a serving platter to keep warm. Do not use lemon juice. Deglaze skillet with 1/2c white wine, scraping browned bits. Cook and stir until slightly 
reduced. Pour sauce over scallops and serve.
Next time I would use less oil and butter proportionate to the amount of scallops I'm cooking. I forgot to halve those two ingredients when I halved the rest of the recipe. That's why the flour coating fried off of the scallops, as you can see in the above photo.

This recipe recommends a chardonnay. The risotto recipe didn't recommend any specific wine other than white. So I bought what was on sale...

The risotto was also a first, cooking and eating it. The recipe was delicious, first of all, and the way they have you add the asparagus at the very end results in perfectly cooked asparagus. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was add about 1/4c plain old water when I added the asparagus for the last 8 minutes of baking time since the risotto looked like it would dry up and burn if I didn't.

And of course, the kiddos needed a special meal too. Heart toast and heart apples to get festive:



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Afghan 2.1

Hooray! I was able to work on the afghan a little this weekend again. I haven't decided if I'm more excited about working on it or getting all my homework done before the weekend.

So here it is. Last time I shared progress on it, I had 21" to show. This weekend I did almost an entire pattern repeat. Yup. About 30 out of 48 rows. And with all my reading, I'm so happy about this. I'm on the last full repeat, then another 3/4 of the pattern

I'd share a photo of my reading but I'm afraid it would bore you a little. HAHAHA! NEVER MIND! Feast your eyes:

As always, see more beautiful work by clicking below:
  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yarn Review Monday 13: JoAnn's Sensations Soles and More

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

The yarn: JoAnn's Sensations Soles and More
  • 75% Wool, 25% Nylon
  • 2.12oz, 60 grams, 262 yards, 240 meters
  • Color #2278

Just to warn you, this might sound very similar to the review I did for Red Heart and Sole. I found the yarns to be very similar.
Also just to warn you, this yarn was discontinued according to Ravelry, evidenced by the fact that I cannot find it for sale anywhere, even on the JoAnn's website.
The project: Narcissa Socks by Rachel Coopey. Published in Interweave Knits' Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. 


What I liked: Doesn't really split when knitting. Doesn't stretch out as much while wearing the sock, and gets back to it's original fit after a wash and air-dry. Feels light and warm during wear. The stockinette stitching feels smooth and comfortable on the soles. Even though the striping really down plays the lace, I think that when worn it is kind of fun when, upon a second look, you see the intricate details of the stitching. I also think the socks look fine even though they're mismatched.

What I didn't like: As you can see above, the socks obviously don't match their stripes. I didn't like how long the repeats in the colors were because I felt like I would really have to waste a lot of yarn in order to match the socks perfectly.

Affordability: Again, I was gifted this yarn. Also, it was discontinued as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, so unless you have this stashed I really can't tell you where to get it or for how much. Sorry!

Rating:
We all know what I think about knitting socks so I don't really see myself using it a lot for that particular purpose. However, I just discovered an awesome pattern at one of my favorite craft blogs, Snapdragon Crafts that would probably be a great way to use the leftovers. 

Sorry I have so many four-star ratings lately. I'll try and switch it up soon.








Previous yarn reviews:
Bernat Boa ( Eyelash yarn; "unofficial" yarn review)
Berroco Vintage (TM) Chunky
Caron Simply Soft Solids and Simply Soft Light
Cascade 220 Sport Weight
Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky Sprinkles
DGB Confetti
Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand
Madelinetosh DK
Paton's Classic Wool
Plymouth Yarns Galway (TM) Worsted
Red Heart and Sole
Regia Angora
Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand


Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own