Thursday, November 22, 2007

Humble (Homely?) Pie

As we say in our family "Happy Thanksgibey". We are heading for my mother-in-laws for the large meal, and when it comes to holiday meals, I have one major role. I am the dessert committee, and on Thanksgibey, that means pie. Well, this has not been a stellar pie year. The punkin is homely, the apple pie boiled over in the oven and the crust for the banana cream drunkenly hangs over the edge of the pie plate, instead of standing up in pretty crimps. I know part of the problem is laziness on my part in buying the pre-made (pillsbury) crust. It shrinks much more than homemade crust and is too soft to make the stand up crimps I wanted for the banana cream.
Really the problems with the banana cream and the pumpkin are purely cosmetic, and the pies should be just as tasty as usual. Pumpkin pie isn't the most beautiful pie, even in the best possible example. Why else would you cover the pie with cool whip? However, I am a little upset about the apple pie. I didn't follow my usual Betty Crocker recipe, which was my first mistake. I tried the recipe in the new Cooks Illustrated magizine, which cooks the apples first over low heat before putting them in the crust and baking them. This is supposed to keep the apples from shrinking in the pie. Unfortunely I also didn't follow the directions about draining the apples after cooking them. I looked at the apples, didn't think that looked like too much liquid, and just dumped them in the crust and threw it in the oven. This was my second mistake. This liquid seeped through the bottom crust (thanks Pillsbury) and boiled up between the bottom crust and the pie plate (instead of in the pie crust, like it supposed too) and made a horrific mess of my oven and a soggy bottom crust. Oh well, maybe it will taste good, even with the soggy crust. I think I'll go back to my usual apple pie recipe for the next holiday, cause that holiday brings home my true blue apple pie lover--my son.
Since we are going over to my mother-in-law's apartment for Thanksgiving, I have given myself permission to start another project. Like I needed permission! Anyway, since we are going to be there for many many hours, I needed something to meet a couple criteria. First it has to be a fairly simple pattern so I don't have to bring along my pattern book, yet not as boring as all garter or all stockinette stitch. Second it has to use circular needles so I can't lose a needle while I'm working on the project. This rules out socks and any cable patterns. Third, and this is most important, I need not to have to measure it constantly, so this leaves out started projects that I need to start the shaping on, say at the armholes. Fourth it needs to be not so huge that it takes up alot of room. This leaves out the afghan I'm working on for my mom. So you see, I needed to start another project! Now I could have just started another scarf for my etsy site, but Christmas is coming so I decided to start a nice man's sweater or vest, either for my ___________ or my____________. (Thanks Franklin!). This fits all the criteria wonderfully. First of all, its a mans sweater-- the men in my family like unfussy patterns and I just happen to have 12 skeins or so of toasty brown wool yarn in my Woolley attic. Second I'll work it in the round, using the circular needle. And since I've just started it, I have lots of knitting to go before I have to measure. Lastly it takes up less room that an afghan. I just cast on last night, and I've got a couple rows done, so when I blog next, I'll show a picture of the progress. Happy Thanksgibey!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just like dear old dad?

While I was reading knitting blogs today, I responded to the open mike question about the layout of the new Interweave Knits mag at The Knitting Curmudgeon's blog. I am not a fan of the new layout at all. I think it is a worse layout than the layout at Vogue Knitting and the Knitters magazine. The new layout is all chopped up, with the picture and part of the pattern in one area, then the rest of the pattern somewhere else in the magazine. Not only is it hard to follow the pattern with this layout, it also makes it harder for me to store the patterns.
I have my own system of storing patterns I like. I have bought a lot of knitting magazines over the years, and I don't want to keep every magazine, but I hate to just throw them out. I tear out the patterns I like and file them into categories. With some patterns categories, I've even made binders with the patterns from different sources. (For example, I have a one for sock patterns, one for hats and gloves, etc.) This makes it easy to find a pattern when you want to make a particular article. With the old layout, the directions followed the picture of the finished article, which made it easy to store the patterns. With the new layout, my storage of patterns is not going to be as easy any more since the patterns are more spread out through the magazine.
I was thinking about this habit or effort to organize or whatever you want to call it, and I am sure that this is actually a family habit. My father is well known in the family for his file cabinets full of articles that he's gonna read some day, and projects that he's gonna to make sometime in the future.
I think the our shared pattern storage habit just might be one part of the bad hoarding habit that runs in the family. My paternal grandmother,( God rest her soul), had so much stuff stuffed into her trailer and shed, it was impossible to walk through most of the rooms. So while I may think that I'm saving clearance yarn from a sad existence on the store shelves at Jo-Annes, I'm actually building my own hoard of yarn. My own woolly attic. No wonder my husband is worried about the yarn taking over. But there you have it, the reason for my bad yarn habits--it runs in the family!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A sad yarn re-visited

A while back, I posted an entry about some sad yarn I left on the shelf of the Jo-Ann's because even on sale, it was a little too much money for my yarn budget. Well, yesterday I went back into the same Jo-Ann's, and instead of being on sale for $4.00 dollars (or what ever it was)--it was now $1.50 a skein. Must rescue soft Italian yarn. (Now that it was within my budget!) I am not sure of what I'm going to do with this yarn--I don't think I have enough of each color for sweaters, and the colors don't really go together. Maybe a vest in each color, or maybe sweaters for my nieces for Christmas. I do know one thing--this yarn is going to have a nice comfy spot in my attic, with lots of other yarn to hang out with.
In other news, my customer for the custom order has sent payment and as soon as the payment clears, her order will be heading off to her. I hope she likes her accessories. My first sale. Yahoo!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I re-read my last entry, and I made a rather big boo-boo. The book that I used for my dyeing experiments is actually called "I'd Rather Dye Laughing" by Jean M. Neel. I really apologize to the writer.
As I talked about in the last entry, this book is a good introduction to dyeing wool. It especially has information and encouragement about a type of dyeing called casserole dyeing. This type of dyeing uses an oven as the heat source. I really enjoyed using this method for a couple of reasons. First of all, it heated my cold house. Now that winter is coming on, the battle of the thermostat is (excuse the pun) heating up. Secondly, it seems to be a no fuss, no muss way of dyeing fiber. I've dyed a couple of times in a big canning pot, and the casserole dyeing just seemed easier.

In other knitting, I finished my first custom job. I haven't heard from the lady who requested them yet, but I hope to soon. I'm crossing my fingers that the hat and mittens are what she was looking for. I'm a little nervous about this because I've been a knitter for a long time, and I've made many many things for many different people, but this is the first time that I've knitted anything specifically to order. I hope she will get in touch with me soon about the hat and mittens.
So now its on to the next custom order. This order uses the red-violet yarn that I casserole dyed, in the same pattern as the mittens and hat shown here. Both the hat and mittens are pretty basic styles that I have adapted to the lace rib stitch pattern, and to the hand-spun yarn I used. I should be smart and write down my pattern as I knit, but I just never manage to do what I should do. I'll start out by writing down my numbers, but by the end I have a paper full of chicken scratches and cross-outs, if I can still find the paper I started with. Now I think that starting with a general pattern and adapting it to my stitch pattern and stitch gauge makes it my pattern, but I am unsure if this makes an original pattern. If anyone has any feedback on this, I would love to read your opinion.