Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Dreams Realized

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Gryphon,Knitalongs,Knitting,Stitchery — folkcat at 3:01 pm on Monday, January 15, 2007

I tried to post this earlier, but there’s an ice storm in the area today, and it’s playing nasty games. I was in the middle of composing this post when the power went down for just about an hour.

Not sure if the problem was a line down, or someone skidded and hit a pole, or what. The trouble line at the power company was very busy, and had a recording listing over 15 towns with outages.

While we waited for power to return, I stepped outside with the camera to show what the storm’s doing locally:

Ice Storm, Hedge
Ice-frosted hedge across the street

Ice Storm, Utility Lines
Hundreds of tiny icicles all along the utility lines

There are disadvantages to living right downtown, even in a small town like ours – noise, traffic, and more. But there are advantages, too – when you live right next door to Town Hall, and across the street from the Police Department, you’re in a zone most likely to get power restored quickly.

Back to Our Scheduled Topics!

With the power restored, I can now get on with telling you about what I accomplished this weekend!

Blissful Stitching Dreams

I am enjoying working on the miniature knotted rug stitchery so very much! Yesterday, I was able to complete a large portion of the background behind the two little mice:

NIP - Knotted Rug - Partial Background on Mice
The Mice Can Romp in Some Grass Now

You’d think that cramming all these tiny little French Knots together would drive a person mad after a while, but the fact is, it’s one of those focused activities that winds up relaxing you a great deal. You know the kind – you look up from your work and find out hours have passed, and you feel like you’re coming out of a thick fog?

Noro Dreams

I reported before about finishing the knitting and felting portions of my Noro Kureyon entre-lac bag. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t let this one languish incompleted! The straps got sewn on over the weekend, and the bag is now ready for use!

FO - Kureyon Entre-lac Bag, Side 1
Kureyon Bag, Side One

FO - Kureyon Entre-lac Bag, Side 2
Kureyon Bag, Side Two

Normally when I make an entre-lac bag, I use the same yarn the bag was knitted from to stitch the straps on. Noro Kureyon presents a problem with that idea, however. The Kureyon singles are variable in their strength, and too many sections will pull apart if used for something with a lot of tension on them, like sewing.

I went into my wool stash, and pulled out this lavendar colored Lamb’s Pride instead. I usually stitch the straps on with a backstitch a little inside the outer edge of the strap end. But since the Lamb’s Pride would stand out, I decided it needed to be more of a design feature. So I satin-stitched the area instead.

FO - Kureyon Entre-lac Bag, Strap Detail
Kureyon Bag, Satin Stitch Detail

And just because the bottoms of these entre-lac bags are always so cool, here’s a look at this one.

FO - Kureyon Bag - Bottom Detail
Kureyon Bag, Bottom Detail

I expect to start using this as my main “going out knitting in public” bag, starting this week.

Barefoot Diva Dreams

Slow going on my latest Barefoot Diva socks. I had, last week, gotten past the heel opening, cast on the stitches needed to complete the leg, and knit about an inch on both socks (I’m doing two socks on two circs).

When I picked them up this weekend, though, I found a small note tucked in the bag. I guess, way back when I started these socks, I had checked my gauge, and calculated all the numbers for the pair: starting stitches, how many to bind off for the heel, how many to cast back on. I had forgotten about it, and when I cast the leg stitches back on this week, I was working to my foot measurement, not my ankle measurement (which is about an inch bigger around).

Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit. I frogged both socks back to the end of the panel that connects foot to leg, cast on again, and got back to stitching. End result? I’m not as far along as I started the weekend at, so it’s negative progress here.

WIP - Barefoot Diva Socks
Barefoot Diva Setback

On the other hand, I have definitely learned something about my preferred knitting styles in the process. This is the first time I’ve worked two socks on two circs. I have previously worked, and proven competent at: dpns; one sock on two circs; magic loop with one sock. This pair has proven my skills at two socks on two circs, as well as two socks on magic loop (I switched between the two methods a couple of times).

Conclusions? I think I’m favoring the use of 5 dpns over any other method. I recognize the benefits of the other techniques, and I can do them if needed. But manipulating the circular needles just isn’t as fast for me as knitting a sock that’s hanging off 4 dpns is.

I’m seriously considering locating my size 2 dpns to finish these up with.

Pirate Dreams

You’ve all watched my trials and tribulations with the We Call Them Pirates Hat here, and I feel I owe you an apology.

See, I actually finished the durned thing on Friday night, and I posted it to the We Call Them Pirates Knitalong blog on Saturday. Which means that the news went first not to you, who have been faithfully supporting me in the effort right along, but to the folks at the knitalong.

In truth, though, it was a Saturday – not a normal posting day here. And the good folks participating in the knitalong were penultimately instrumental in helping me make the hat happen at all. So I hope you’ll forgive me, and enjoy these pictures of the Finished Object!

FO - Pirates Hat, Front View
Front View

FO - Pirates Hat, Inside View
Inside, Floats and Lining

FO - Pirates Hat, Lining Detail
Stitching Detail, Lining to Inside

In the repeated process of knitting this hat, I had decided several attempts ago to include a small design surprise in the piece. Can you spot it in this rear view?

FO - Pirates Hat, Back View
One of These Things is Not Like The Others

Sorry, no prize but your own satisfaction for figuring it out!

Xocolate Dreams

Finally, I’m pleased to say that last night, I was able to realize the Xocolate Dream I wrote about Friday.

It’s been years since I had anything resembling hot chocolate, and I can assure you it was almost certainly a simple Swiss Miss instant when I did. Which may explain why it’s not something I’ve done in a long time.

Well, yesterday I took the time to gently heat a cup of milk on the stove, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of the Dagoba chocolate. I poured it all into a nice, heavy stoneware mug I’d received as a Christmas gift, and sat down in my comfy chair.

FO - Dagobah Hot Chocolate in Mug
‘T’ain’t No Swiss Miss Here

It was all as I dreamed; warm cup cradled in my hands; rich aroma of chocolate filling my nostrils. Only this time, the dream didn’t end.

This time, I got to taste it.

There are no words. I could try to invent one. Fantabulous. Increscrumptious. Yummeriffic.

Nope. There simply Are. No. Words.

The flavor was rich. There was just a hint of sweetness, just enough of it. I realized at that moment one of the reasons I don’t favor the instant mixes – they tend to be over sweet, the sugary flavor overwhelms the “chocolate” flavor. And of course, the mixes are so little real chocolate, and more often artificial flavor components.

There was a visceral reaction to the Dagoba hot chocolate. I could feel the relaxation settling into every part of my body as I sipped. The chocolate flavor invaded my soul. An hour after finishing the cup, I could still feel the effects, still taste the chocolate, still sense the calm.

This is the good stuff, folks. If you ever have the opportunity to partake of it, do so. It’s more time and effort to prepare, but the lasting effects are well worth it.

In other Xocolate news, I also ate the caramel & chocolate dipped pretzel, and a few of the assorted chocolates. Equally amazing! The pretzel especially – I wish I had a source for them locally.

Thanks once again to Margene and Anne for making this “Z is for…” prize possible!



Comment by jen.

January 15, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

The hat looks great! I generally don’t like yellow, and if someone had simply said they made the hat with red/yellow, I would have cringed. Looking at it though, it looks really nice together. My color horizons have been expanded a bit, I think.

I’m glad you were finally able to finish the hat without added trials and tribulations. … and I do love your own personal touch on the “Odd Man Out” skull. 🙂


Comment by Mia

January 15, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

The best part of an ice storm is how pretty it makes the utility lines look. Except of course until the weight of it causes problems. It is funny but I have never lost power during an ice storm while my parents have. My lines are above ground and their’s are buried. (We only live about 1/2 mile apart.)

I will have to try my hot chocolate mix tonight. I think I will warm up my vanilla soy and treat myself while I work on my pirate hat. Do you have a need for red Baby Ull? I just found like 3 or 4 skeins in my stash this weekend.


Comment by Carrie K

January 15, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

Oh yum, the chocolate just sounds scrumptious. I had to make myself a cup of Ghiradelli chocolate after reading your post.

The nerve! Posting the FO on the KAL instead of here first! lol. Congrats on finishing it and it fitting! Too bad about the Barefoot Diva socks. I prefer 5 dpn’s myself, I’ve never managed to finish knitting a sock any other way. I still want to try the sock in a sock though. One of these days.

Icicles on the wires! Yikes! It’s been uncharacteristically cold here -we’re setting records – and the water I leave out for the animals was frozen solid yesterday morning. Brrr.


Comment by Valerie in San Diego

January 15, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

What a great post! So much to read about. I can’t possibly comment on it all, but the bag is just as spectacular as the one you made me (I like mine best but this is beautiful!), Gryphon’s hat is great and looks great on him, and I loved your description of hot chocolate. I can’t really drink hot chocolate anymore (it’s just not the same with soy milk, so I don’t bother), but the description brought me back the wonderful taste as if I were there. 🙂 so thanks.


Comment by Claudia

January 16, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

I don’t know wether to say WOW or YUM first! Love the hat, and the sulky.sad skull is too cute. The Noro bag is fab and the socks will be fab too, once you’ve finished them. I too have tried all sock knitting methods, and like four dpn’s best – 3 for the sock and one to knit with. I’ll use five is I have to, but gravitate to four. Isn’t it funny what each of us finds easiest! And I’m so glad you had the hot chocolate. From one who can’t eat sugar (and thus, most goodies are off limits to me) – I totally understand your overjoyed response to the hot chocolate!

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