High may your proud standards gloriously wave

July 27, 2010 § 3 Comments

I love Scotland.

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I’m not ashamed to admit it, either. The Highlands are gorgeous, Edinburgh is an entirely charming city, and Scottish accents set my heart on fire. I’ve had a single-bagpipe version of  ‘Scotland the Brave’ as the world’s most annoying ringtone since August 2007, which has led to frantic episodes of digging for my cell phone in all kinds of places (most notably on Westminster Bridge, where I didn’t spot the lone bagpiper in time).

I’ve also been coveting Marianne Kinzel’s Thistle Design ‘Balmoral’ at least since January – that’s when I queued it, though I’m pretty sure I’ve had it in my favorites longer than that, it’s just that I got the book around that time. It’s an outstanding design, timeless, gorgeous, Scottish – and it doesn’t repeat. Well, the background pattern does, but the rest? Mostly line-by-line work of pre-computer charts.

The most surprising thing of all? I’m making ridiculous progress. I’ve been at it for five days, and I’m almost done with the second chart, i.e. the tops of the thistles. Granted, I’m doing half the design, cause I have little to no use for a circular shawl (not that I have too much use for other shawls, mind. ahem), but I’ve still put in a lot of hours, and it shows.

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I’m thinking it might also be due to the yarn. It’s the white Zitron Filigran No. 1, but unlike the skeins I made Haruni out of, it’s the second generation. Filigran No. 1.2, so to speak. Apparently it’s steamed at 1°C higher than the previous incarnation, which astonishingly enough results in an amazing increase of softness. It feels at bit fluffier, too, but what’s most remarkable is that it’s softer than butter. It almost feels like baby alpaca, that’s how soft it is.

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I had to take some leaps of faith – especially the asymmetrical-seeming kfb increases, which turned out to be perfectly symmetrical after all – but on the whole, I find it perfectly charming. The thistles are remarkably thistle-like, I love the wide mesh in the middle of the thistle-heads, the background is very textured yet just airy enough, and I have yet to figure out where exactly the row increases are hidden.

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All in all, it’s quite marvelous.

And also, I’ve been watching entirely too much QI to be unaffected by the brilliant Stephen Fry’s speech patterns. Oh dear.

Now excuse me, I need to tink back two rows to fix the background in the last panel. And also refurbish the kitchen.

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On the front lobe of my left-side brain

July 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

I went to Zitron when I was at my parents’ these last few days – big surprise there, I know! The plan was to just nip in and get some sock yarn, and like always, the nipping extended to about an hour and a half, in which I fondled new yarns due to come out in the near to not-so-near future (and oh, I can hardly wait for the new lace yarn!), talked yarn and translation with Mr Zitron, and bought some fresh-from-the-dyeworks sock yarn. And some lace yarn. And ordered a custom extra-long 4mm circ for Girl Friday.

I love those people, but my visit once again creates an old problem: it’s called ‘oh god, I’m running out of space to store my yarn’.

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The second drawer is actually just for reference, I didn’t add anything to the heavier-than-fingering-weight yarns. However, the four sock yarns (two balls, two skeins) on the left are the sock yarns I bought, plus white lace yarn (which I’ve vaguely planned for knitting a half a Balmoral), and this beauty:

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It’s Filigran Lace No 1 in Indian Summer, and it’s very colorful. The colors are muted jewel-tones, yes, and it’s entirely gorgeous in the skein as well as in the ball. I’ll have to wait for a really strong shawl pattern for this, though, or else it’ll drown in the sheer mass of colors.

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This is some Trekking HandArt Tweed that didn’t have a color on the label, so I’m assuming it’s a test skein or something not quite ready for widespread distribution. Either way, I love it, and I’m knitting socks with it right now. Waffle-stitch, nothing fancy, but slightly more fancy than the plain socks I usually churn out. It’s just so pretty! And the colors are kind of rustic, which goes very well with the whole tweed thing. I’m not sure what it reminds me of, but it is very homey.

The bad news about having cast on yet another sock will become instantly apparent when I show you this photo:

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I’m assuming there’s about five to six pairs buried somewhere in my laundry to add to that, plus the recent pair that isn’t in there because I haven’t yet cut the ends. I really need to  sort out the socks that are starting to wear thin, or find another solution, or start giving socks away (except how could I, they’re my babies!), because my sock drawer is already literally bursting at the seams. No kidding, one of the corner has burst apart.

It’s entirely true I might have a slight obsession.

And people wonder why I like to knit lace. For those who are wondering: it’s because it takes more time and less space.

The World Will Follow After

February 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

After spending a week and a half at my parents’ and being busy with slowly but steadily going stir-crazy, I’m back in Leipzig, and thank god for that. My system’s acting up, my skin’s acting up, I had random nosebleeds, headaches and a back like a board. So, yes, I’m definitely glad to be back home, where I can stay up all night without a bad conscience and where I’m not trying to squeeze myself into a bed that’s just a tad too short for me to fit comfortably.

The visit wasn’t without perks, though. First, my parents are clearing out my grandparents’ house, and there’s just so much stuff. I snagged a bundt cake pan, a ton of buttons, wooden spoons and tongs my grandpa made himself, a couple of meters of lace edging… also a full set of gold-rimmed china, and a couple of pillows, but I’m not taking those back to Leipzig now. Or in the near future. We have so many plates already, I think our kitchen would burst. But there’s also a couple of quirky things, like an automatic drink dispenser thingy shaped like a knight’s helmet. I’m all for weird drinking accessories!

Then, I got to drive to the Atelier Zitron again, which is always exciting. I only took €45 this time, and didn’t even spend all of it. Which raised eyebrows, honest to god. I guess it’s nice that they know my face there, but it’s also a bad testament to my spending habits when people ask me what’s gotten into me when I leave with less than €60 worth of yarn.

The stuff I bought wasn’t outrageous, but very lovely all the same: four 50g balls of Gobi, which is my favorite worsted weight yarn ever: 40/30/30 merino/alpaca/camel, buttery soft and just an all around joy to work with. It isn’t available in a crazy range of color like the KnitPicks yarns, but all of their colors are lovely and very cozy, somehow. I bought one grey and one burgundy to make another Opus Spicatum hat (for my mother this time, and I finished the thing the same evening), and two rust-colored balls for a hat for myself. Though that one’s gonna have to wait a bit, cause I swear, I can feel spring approaching, and I ain’t knitting no warm hat when I can practically feel the air warming around me.

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I may be exaggerating slightly, but at this point I am so starved for a little sunshine and a little spring.

Anyway. The rest of my purchase was a little less extravagant: a test skein of yellow/orange HandArt, 4 balls of a DK-ish grey new wool yarn that was 2 bucks a pop and I couldn’t resist, and Zitron’s newest baby, the No. 1 Lace Filigran. Lovely indigo blue, nice texture – I like merino lace yarns, they’re not too delicate. Not that I don’t absolutely adore Misti Alpaca Lace, but merino is kind of more down-to-earth. And also more widely available.

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I got struck by a bit of startitis, with the weather changing, so currently I have two new shawls on the needles: one Haruni with the Filigran, and a fudging-it version of the Shetland Lace Triangle. Figuring out how that pattern works made me feel like the knitting equivalent of Sherlock Holmes and entertained me for a whole evening. Entertained is too weak a word, I had a blast. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun on my own in forever.

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Then again, I haven’t really been doing things all by my lonesomes recently. I usually have company, either in the form of roomies hanging out two feet from me, or people via IM programs. I guess I forgot how fun it was to do things by myself. I’ve seriously gotten a little codependent with how much Saskia and I hang out on a regular basis, i.e. at least seven, eight hours a day, every day.

I guess that’s one of the good things that came out of this trip: rediscovering solitude.

But I’m glad to be going back, and rediscovering company, too.

PS: there’s new socks, too. They were awesome and perfect, and then they fulled like crazy in the washing machine. I have a feeling it might be the flamé yarn. So, in conclusion: no more flamé socks.

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Stay in the kitchen when the kitchen gets hot

January 15, 2010 § 2 Comments

Grey’s Anatomy is back on! I hadn’t quite realized how much I’d missed the weekly drama. While enjoying Lexi walking in on Callie and Arizona in the shower (mmmh) and Cristina kicking ass in the OR and Meredith angsting on Izzie’s behalf, I whipped this up:

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It’s a little sugar bowl cozy to go with my tea cozy! Good thing I have no more Nimbus, or I’d probably continue with a cream jug cozy, teacup cozies and a pan cozy for my pan. Then again…

Also, I made the bestest dinner ever last night, chicken with peanut sauce and coconut rice. I’d love to share a photo, but if there’s an appealing way to photograph thick peanut sauce, I haven’t found it yet. However, my new, shiny, cast-iron pan is doing pretty good in my kitchen:

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And the chicken, well, it went something like this:

Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Rice

Ingredients (serves two)

2 chicken breasts
1 cup of rice
1.5 cups of water
desiccated coconut
1 yogurt
150 g peanut butter (roughly)
2 TBS soy sauce
100ml water
Sambal Oelek
Oil (I used olive, sesame would probably be better)
salt, pepper

*

Wash and cut up the chicken breasts.

Cover the bottom of a small pot with olive oil. Pour the rice in, stir till all the grains are covered in oil. Add water and a pinch of salt, bring to boil. Cook on low flame till all the water has evaporated and the rice is done (around 15 minutes). After about 12 minutes, add coconut to taste.

While the rice is cooking, heat up your frying pan and fry the chicken strips. Season lightly with salt, pepper and garlic. Just a hint of curry might also work well with that, but if you’re gonna do that, don’t add it in too early, because curry gets bitter if it burns.

In another pot, mix peanut butter, soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then slowly add in yogurt, stirring constantly. Season with sambal oelek until you get a nice, slow burn. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, just stir in a little more water.

I had too much oil in my pan to just mix the peanut sauce and the chicken before putting it on a plate, so I just poured the sauce over chicken and rice. Serve however your want, as long as it’s hot.

You can also leave out the chicken; just the rice and the sauce are delicious together.

Sales a escena y eres immortal

December 11, 2009 § 3 Comments

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It’s funny how my life seems to alternate between insanely productive and absolutely lazy days.

The day before yesterday was a really productive day. In fact, I cut my WIPs on Ravelry down to two – though I do have to admit that I moved the HSJBTM socks in the hibernating section. Oh well.

In any case, I finally sewed the buttons onto my Tempest cardigan!

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This means that only eight months after I finished knitting the thing, it’s finally done. It only took an hour. I can’t believe I haven’t been wearing that thing for months now.

Anyway. I also worked on the Baktus for my grandma some more:

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I believe I’m about halfway done with it, but I couldn’t get myself to get up, which is why I put it aside and instead continued with my slip-stitch socks.

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Usually, I’d say they’re too colorful for me, but man… these are the perfect rainy-day socks. Plus, with the slip-stitch, they feel about twice as thick, and they’re all squooshy, and of course them jewel colors… I’m very much enchanted. I love them.

But, here’s what I hate about holiday season. I mean, apart from the fact that I don’t really know what to do with my Fridays, since there’s no new Grey’s Anatomy or Supernatural on.

It’s the vicious cycle of Christmas Knitting.

You start to knit something, and it’s all good, and then you realize you’d rather work on something else. But you can’t, cause you’ve got that deadline hanging over your head like a sword of Damocles, which makes you start to loathe whatever Christmas present you’re knitting. Which makes it harder to force yourself to knit it, and knitting makes you loathe it even more, but there’s Christmas, and oh god, only two weeks, and…

I just wanna knit some socks.

Instead, I finally started the Christmas ornament mini Weasley sweaters for my host family back in the US. Three weeks late. They’re tiny (14 sts wide, 21 rows high), they’re easy, they’re technically entertaining, they’re technically great TV knitting… and I can’t stand the thought that even though I’ve already finished two, there’s four more to go. Ugh.

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At this point, I’d rather work on Ruba’iyat. Or, you know, the sock. Or study vocab.Which reminds me, I need to block my mom’s scarf.

I’m so, so ready for Christmas to be over.

Here in Heaven

November 26, 2009 § 5 Comments

Call me God, cause I just gave an angel wings and hung the stars.

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(or, you know, call me Dean, cause I just tied up and humiliated Cas. Take your pick.)

It’s a bit pale, I admit that, but I upped the contrast as much as I could without making it look entirely ridiculous, and so… yeah. It’s not quite as grainy as it looks in the photo, though.

Yay, Castiel Christmas decoration! Only took me about 3.5 hours.

Not-so-yay leftovers I have to now clean up.

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On the other hand, I’m possibly the only person who hangs stars with butter-soft laceweight baby alpaca. And that’s probably as close to heaven as I’ll ever get.

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(Also, I started the Ruba’iyat mittens last night. They’re… intense, to say the least. 2.25mm Harmonies, plant-dyed red and exclusive Zitron Handart brown, both fingering weight)

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Can’t fight this feeling anymore

November 21, 2009 § 3 Comments

It’s hat fever season.

Less than 24 hours after finishing Opus Spicatum, I’ve churned out an Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap, and while it still needs some… buttons, or a pompom, or something ridiculous like that, it’s cute as a button now and I’m totally wearing it to the Mass in H-minor at the Nikolai church this afternoon.

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It’s all knit flat, which I think is always amazing for a hat, and then seamed together at the back. I have to say, I’m not the biggest fan of short rows, usually – I abhor short row heels on socks, I never come out with the right stitch count afterwards – but this cute little thing? Rocks the short rows, and the stitch pattern conquered my heart in a storm.

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It’s around 80 g of Zitron Nimbus on 4 mm needles, done in… less than a day! Man, I’m just churning stuff out these days!

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