Friday, August 31, 2012

On swatching . . . and more swatching

I've got 2 designs due in September, so as I squeeze in work on them here and there, I haven't had time to do anything more than swatch for other projects.

But swatch I have!

Here's the swatch for my autumn-y Adhara shawl:


I'm loving this color combo.

Here's a rather boring swatch for my Clockwork scarf for CP:


I'll also be using an dark brown in this project.

I've swatched for Ysolda's Marin, using a wool/silk/cashmere blend from Tanis Fiber Arts that's ridiculously soft:


And here's the swatch for my Rocky Coast Cardigan, using some Knit Picks swish tonal:


Can't wait to get started on this one!

As you can see, my fall plans mostly revolve around neckwear, though I'm sure I'll be tempted into some additional projects.

Socks are always a threat.

I'm also happy to tell you that two things are happening tomorrow, September 1: I'm putting my Cielito design up on Ravelry--previously it was available only through Knit Picks--and I'm releasing the first issue of the MediaPeruana Designs newsletter, which will contain an exclusive coupon! So if you haven't signed up already, do it now!

Sign up for the free MediaPeruana Designs newsletter!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory

Dear Dory,

I recently purchased a lovely new dining set. Problem: the cat thinks it's her new bedroom set. How can I train her to stay off the table??

Annoyed in Akron

Dear Annoyed,

I have no clue what you're talking about. Train your kitty? Stay off the table??? Hmph.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday Sampler: 'Round the Virtual Neighborhood

(Shhhh! I know it's not Saturday anymore. Just pretend it is!)

The entire Internet is getting ready for fall, and I am happy to join them. I am sick sick SICK of summer. It's been summer since April. I'm done. I plan to spend today swatching for fall projects (in between working on 2 designs that are due in September!) and making zucchini bread, wishing it were pumpkin bread. (As much as I'm ready for fall, I still follow a strict pumpkin regimen--no pumpkin until the first official day of fall.)

If you're as ready for fall as I am, you'll love this week's sampler.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Coffee Cake would make a great Halloween or Thanksgiving breakfast.

Autumn Brittle looks crazy fun!

Boots! It's almost time for them. And these are non-leather.

Who's ready for pumpkin spice lattes?? (Yes, doctor says up to 200mg caffeine a day!)

Clear vases filled with fall-ish items make quick and easy autumn decor.

Love this fall squash wreath.

And everyone needs a big, cozy cardi.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory Nelly

Dory was too busy to sit still for a photo this week, so I'm filling in.

Dear Nelly,

Fall is just around the corner, and there are so many great knitting patterns being made available--how can I decide what to make??

Overwhelmed in Omaha

Dear Overwhelmed,

When planning your fall knitting, it's important to think of your kittehs. First, anything you make should be done in pro-kitteh colors. I like to show off my orange fur by shedding it all over everything ever, so I'm in favor of using white yarn. Kristen, oddly, doesn't seem amused to find my fur on things, and usually picks colors where my fur won't be as visible.

Secondly, your knitting should be an excellent kitteh bed--we're starting to get chilly in the fall! So that means lots of sweaters! Kristen says she's having a baby, whatever that is, so her dreams of knitting a snuggly white cabled pullover have been dashed [Editor's note--for now]. Instead, she's planning for a few cardigans. Like Hannah Fettig's gorgeous Rocky Coast Cardigan.

Third, don't forget your accessories! It might be a bit warm, still, for mittens, but shawls done up in warm fall colors also make great scarves. Kristen's going to knit the Adhara shawl in 2 fall-ish shades of Madelinetosh sock--Sequoia and Glazed Pecan. She even wound the yarn last night. And I helped! [Editor's note--no, she didn't.]

And last, don't forget that--gulp!--Christmas is coming! Start those gifts now, while you still have your sanity.

Aren't I so much more helpful than Dory? I thought so.


p.s. I'm supposed to remind you that Kristen has some patterns available that would be great for fall. You can see them all here. And next month, she'll be releasing a new cowl pattern, just in time for cooler weather!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A newbie's guide to making and preserving jam

Just a little break from the knitting talk (or the unrealized knitting aspirations) to tell you guys about my weekend adventure.

I made jam!

Or, possibly, syrup!

I'm not sure yet.

Time will tell.

And I had so much fun, I thought I would provide some guidelines for other knitters interested in making and preserving jam/syrup/fruit-based something-or-other.

Apologies in advance that this won't be a picture heavy post. It's hard to boil fruit and take pictures at the same time.

Start by fitting an assortment of canning jars into a canning rack, placing it in the largest pot you can find, filling the whole thing with water, and bringing it to a boil. Let them simmer a bit while you make the jam. Also get your bands and lids together. Put the lids top-side-up in a bowl nearby.

Then, get a bucket of fruit. I fought a lot of bees and assorted annoying bugs for this bucket, and a similar looking bucket of blackberries.


Check your recipe for the amount of prepared (read: crushed) fruit you need, forget that whole fruit =/= crushed fruit in volume, and plan the rest of your jam-making adventure around incorrect math. Fun!

Dump your fruit in a big pot, mash it up, add the pectin (thickening agent), bring to a boil, than add gobs and gobs of sugar (jam = 200% sugar), and bring to a boil again. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly while trying not to splash yourself with boiling fruit.

After 1 minute, take it off the heat. It will look like syrup. Apparently you should scoop some up in a spoon, let it cool to room temp, and assess the gel--if it doesn't look like jam, boil some more. My recipe didn't include this step, though, so I didn't check my jam and have no idea if I did it right or not. Oops. (For what it's worth, some blobs that I spilled in the sink while cleaning up congealed to look like jam, so I have high hopes.)

Now, the jars.

Get your jar tong thingies

and carefully grab a jar out of the simmering pot. It will, of course, be filled with near-boiling water.

Carefully, carefully move it toward the bowl with your canning lids. Carefully carefully tip the water into the bowl (apparently the warm water will help soften the rubber around the edges for better sealing). Carefully carefully don't scream when some near-boiling water splashes down the front of your shirt. Set the now-empty jar on a nearby towel.

Repeat with the remaining jars. At least once, possibly several times, accidentally drop the jars back into the boiling water, shriek, scare the cats and scald your hand. Stupid tongs.

Cursing optional, but encouraged.

Once you have all your hot, empty jars assembled, ladle your syrup/jam into the jars. Wipe the rims, somehow, even though everything is hot enough to sear your skin, then put the lids on top and screw on the bands.

Get your nearly-useless tongs again, and carefully pick up each jar and put it back in the pot of hot, hot water, being super extra careful (you spend a lot of time being careful, did you notice?) not to drop. Once all the jars are arranged neatly in the canning rack, put the lid back on the pot, bring to a boil, and "process" for set time (in my case, 10 minutes). Then turn off the heat, remove the pot's lid and let the jars chill in the slightly-less-hot water for 5 minutes.

You might use this 5 minutes to clean up the blobs and splashes of congealed fruit goop that are EVERYWHERE.

Super fun time again! Find the damn tongs and slowly and carefully lift the still-simmering jars of fruit product out of the water. Lift them straight up, no tilting. Sure, hot hot water is pooled on top of each lid, but don't try to pour it off or bad things might happen. I can't remember what, exactly, the book claimed could happen, but just don't do it. Instead, slowly airlift your hot jars of syrup/jam over to the counter, trying not to drip hot hot water on your feet, which are, of course, bare.

Once all the jars are out, smile at them happily, ignoring any odd popping sounds.


Let your jars sit for 24 hours. Then, check the seals. If the lids are suctioned down and don't do that fun popping thing when you press down on them, you did it! If they do pop up and down, they're not sealed, and you have to eat 8 jars of jam/syrup within 3 weeks.

I'll be checking my jars tonight--fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On downsizing

Inspired by Dory's helpful advice yesterday, I decided to tackle my seemingly-bottomless WIP basket and declare some projects dead, once and for all. As a result, I reclaimed a bunch of interchangeable cables and now have needle tip sizes 4, 5, 6 and 7 readily available for new projects.

First to go were a few recent projects.

I already told you I was going to frog this baby sweater because I made a poor yarn choice:


I also decided to frog my doomed Ravellenics projects. I miscrossed some cables and knew there was no way I would ever rip back and fix them, or master the tricky task of dropping and reknitting the appropriate stitches.


With the pattern lost forever in the Ramada, San Jose, Costa Rica, CP's sweater is being frogged:


I think I'll use the yarn to make him An Aran for Frederick, from Jane Austen Knits. Possibly.

I found this second version of my Deep Creek cowl that I decided to knit up for . . . some reason? Clearly I didn't get very far, and I can't imagine what I'd need it for, so ciao.


I found a back-of-a-sweater hiding at the bottom of the basket. I started the Henley Perfected years ago, and while I still hope to knit it someday, I think I'll be starting over. Amusingly, I actually managed to remember to put in a lifeline before I started the armhole shaping!


I also found a few other projects in there--socks, mittens, a hat--that I'd already yanked the needles out of, so it's just a matter of winding the yarn back up.

I've still got a healthy number of WIPs to tackle, but I think I've purged all the projects that have no hope of completion. And with fall on the horizon, I can feel my knitting battery starting to recharge!

I may or may not have celebrated by ordering yarn . . .

(I also may or may not have subtly hinted to CP that Jimmy Beans Wool had Namaste's new Harlow Bag in stock in the very fallish Pumpkin Spice colorway, so it may or may not be on its way to our house . . . )

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesdays with Dory

Check out the new bed Kristen bought me! She calls it a "doormat," I think she's just confused.

Dear Dory,

I have so many WIPs, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. Any advice for cutting down my active projects to a realistic number? When I look at them, I just can't bear to frog!

Indecisive in Idaho

Dear Indecisive,

I like to help Kristen decide which WIPs to give up on by occasionally chewing on some of them. She never wants to knit with slobbery yarn. Here's how I decide which projects to eat:

  • The yarn is wrong: it's too thin, too heavy, too fuzzy, too something. Whatever's wrong with it, finishing the project isn't going to help. You're still going to hate the yarn/project combo, so don't waste your time. Just rip it.
  • The pattern is missing: of course, if you bought a digital download, you're still in business. But if it's a paper pattern, chances are you'll never see it again. And unless you REALLY love the project, you're probably not going to buy another copy. So don't kid yourself. Riiiiiiiiiiiip.
  • You've forgotten where you are: Of course, you should make a good faith effort to figure it out, especially if you like the project, but if you just can't, there's no reason to leave it in your WIP basket for years and years, thinking that eventually things will click and you'll find your way. Hug it and say goodbye.
  • You've made a grave error that has no easy fix: You'll find lots of tips online for fixing mistakes without ripping back rows and rows of knitting, but unfortunately, some errors just aren't fixable. The only solution is to rip back and reknit, which, depending on the project, can seem unfathomable. If the thought of reknitting a large portion of your project makes you cry and bury it in the bottom of the basket, just take the plunge and frog the whole thing.
  • It doesn't fit: It's true, sometimes gauge swatches lie. The result is a garment that doesn't fit. And the thing is, it's never going to fit. You're not going to gain or lose 20 pounds. Your arms aren't going to grow or shrink a few inches. Your feet probably aren't going to swell to twice their normal size. Minor size errors can sometimes be overcome (ex: add cuffs to the sleeves), but if your sweater simply does not fit your body, frog it and move on.
  • It's been in your WIP basket for X number of years: Only you can decide what a reasonable cut off point is, but pick one and stick with it. If you haven't gotten around to finishing the project during the last year/decade/century, you probably never will.

Hope you find these guidelines helpful!

Have a purrrrrrrfect day!


p.s. Kristen tells me she told you guys she's going to have a baby. I don't know what a baby is, really, but Kristen seems to be eating a lot of extra chocolate. Anyway, she promises not to turn this into a blog about pregnancy--whatever that is--but she did want to share this cute photo from the party I spent the weekend hiding from:


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday sampler: 'Round the Virtual Neighborhood

Yesterday we hosted our housewarming party (where I got up early to prepare two side salads, and then completely forgot to actually serve them at the party), so I'm a day late on this week's sampler. Hope it's worth the wait.

How cute is this onesie? (That says "Giving you the bird since 1954")

Check out this amazing Harry Potter-themed nursery!

A collection of free baby sock patterns, from Ann Budd.

Now, if you were paying very close attention, you may have picked up on the extremely subtle theme to this week's sampler post: babies! (I know, it was hard to spot. Don't feel bad if you didn't pick up on it. )

And in keeping with that theme, I am happy to announce that CP and I are expecting a wee Peruanito/a! S/he is due February 8, and I've yet to knit a single baby thing. But now that the first trimester is over, I hope to find the energy to pick up the knitting needles occasionally. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On not knitting

Hey, wanna hear more about ants?!? Probably not. So I'll just do a quick recap of the latest offensive.

Then I'm going to tell you about all the things I'm not knitting. There are a lot of them.

Ok, ants:

They reemerged with a vengeance over the weekend, so I took swift action. Baits were placed inside and outside the house, the cats' dining area was relocated, and the food bowl has been placed in a pseudo-moat--ie, a shallow dish of water--so if ants find it again, they'll drown trying to eat the kibble, and I won't have to throw so much of it out.

(Incidentally, I'm considering switching the cats to a daily feeding schedule--rather than all day grazing--and soft food. I'm sure Dory will have a lot to say about it.)

No ants since.

But don't worry, a deer ravaged my garden last night, so wildlife are still keeping me on my toes.

In knitting news, I have quite a few projects I'm not working on--and lousy iPhone photos of them.

I want to work on them. I really do.

But it's hot. And even though I spend most of my day in the A/C, the weather is somehow still draining.

A lap full of wool is just off-putting.

I started this wee baby sweater for a friend's upcoming September baby. It's the ubiquitous Gramps Cardigan:


But I picked a wool/cotton blend, and it's just not working for me. A grandpa-style sweater should be cozy, right?

Right. Like a hug from grandpa.

So I'll be frogging this one.

I also started this Girasole blanket, thinking it would be great to have when (if??) the weather cools down.


But this yarn is far too cozy. Not in general, but for August. It's got llama, it's got sheep's wool. I don't want it near me.

Apparently I'm like the Goldilocks of knitting. "This yarn is too scratchy. This yarn is too soft. This yarn is too light."

I never did finish these Hufflepuff socks, they still look exactly like this:


And this sweater has been done for quite a while, only it came out a wee bit snug, and I haven't bothered to block it again to see if I can loosen it up more. It's also in desperate need of buttons.


So what am I knitting?

Things I don't have pictures of, of course.

I couldn't miss out on all the Ravellenics fun, so I picked out a wee baby vest I thought I might manage not to get bored of (wow, that's a grammatical nightmare. . . ). So far, so good. I'm also working on a colorful summer-y top for myself that will probably be finished just in time to pack away for the winter. More on that next time.

So, in conclusion . . .

Have you ever thought, "Gee, I don't get enough of Kristen's bizarre, incoherent ramblings here on the blog or on Twitter. I sure wish MediaPeruana Designs had a Facebook page!" Well, all 1 person that ever thought that, you're in luck! You can now find MediaPeruana Designs over on Facebook too. I'm sure that's a relief! Please stop by and say hi!