Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Bread Machine Story

I promised you a story today.

But first, thank you for all the comments, ideas and suggestions about how my bread turns out! You all agree that it has to do with the yeast...and I am sure you are correct. There is a really good chance that it has to do with the temperature of my water affecting the yeast- I doubt the issue is the yeast itself, because it came out of the same package for both loaves. It could also be how I measure the salt. I will be more careful about that as well.
I was originally thinking that it may be because I occasionally omit ingredients. I am allergic to milk, so I don't add dry milk, and I substitute water or rice milk for buttermilk and regular milk. But the 2nd loaf (Spicy Gingerbread) was supposed to have dry milk, and it was fine. The first loaf (Whole Wheat Sesame) I had all the ingredients for. But that loaf consistently turns out like that. It rises fine, but when it starts cooking, the top falls in. It's not a brick- it's not thick and doughy, really, it is nice and fluffy and yumm (the best toast! I really want to make vegan French Toast with it!), but it's a bowl-top.
I will try to measure my salt more carefully and be more consistent in the water temperature. I'll let you know what I did if I get a WWSesame loaf with a nice round top.

This is my bread machine.

I LOVE it. I use it constantly. At least 3 times a week. Joel uses homemade bread for his work lunch sandwiches now; and we use it for snacks, I make our hamburger buns, desserts, even dinners (Stromboli, mmmmm) with it. It is fantastic. It also saves us a great deal of money. I used to spend in two weeks on bread what I now spend for 3 months of flour/yeast/etc. And I did not purchase the machine.

On November 11, 2010, I posted on Plurk (look me up as Lobug) that I wanted a bread machine for my birthday in December. I was trying to figure out how I could convince my Mom or Joel to buy one for me. ;) And I thought that was it. Something nice, but whatever, whenever, you know?

On November 17th, these came in the mail:

(the Post-It notes were not included. I use these constantly; just in case you wondered....) And the receipt had 2 names on it. 2 names of my Plurk buddies. So naturally, I very excitedly posted a thank you- thinking all the time, "wow, now I really have to talk Mom or Joel into the machine!!"- only to find out that that was not the extent of my birthday present. A few days later, my machine showed up at my door. 9 of the most amazing people blessed me with an early birthday present (I got to use it for Thanksgiving dinner!!!). Only 1 of those 9 have I ever met in person. (I love that I get to meet and know so many wonderful people because of the internet!)So KarenGMT, AlliCat, Strem3kids, Trillium, Elvisneedsboats, RozinPDX, KelticKarma, Mishya75, and Painty, this is my (very late, I'm sorry) public thank you to you amazing, wonderful women. Thank you. I think of you every day. ;D

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweaters and Bread

No, Sweaters and bread really don't have anything to do with each other- other than the fact that that's what I'm going to be talking about here.

Do you know how hard it is for me to find titles for my blog posts? Well, sometimes it's not that hard, but the majority of the time it's the hardest part of the post. Maybe that's part of the reason I design knitwear instead of being a writer. Ok, now that we're done with that rabbit trail, I'll try to get back to the subject(s).

I did it. I finally finished the modifications on Joel's sweater. It only took me two years. He wore it Sunday. It looked really good on him, but you'll have to take my word for it because I totally did not get a picture of him wearing it. I thought of it. I told him I was going to have to get a picture. And then I didn't. Although, when I saw him wearing it, I realized I was going to have to take the leftovers from the sleeves(yes there were leftovers. Guess they were puffier than I realized):

(pacifier for scale) and put them around the waist. Making a sweater for a model is entirely different than making one for my lengthy husband. It fits ok, but it would fit better if it was just a few inches longer. Like 5. But that will have to wait. I am getting a bit behind in my self-imposed schedule for my book designing- and so I'm going to kick that into high gear for awhile and see if I can get ahead with it.

I just finished another club design today, so that's the last one for a bit and I can focus on book #1- for which I have 3 more patterns I need to get to my test knitters.

As for the bread- well, there's this really cool story about how I got a bread machine last year. I was going to share it, but all of a sudden there are some needy little ones surrounding me- so I need to cut this short. Come back on Thursday for the cool story.

In the meantime, can anyone who uses a bread machine tell me why sometimes I get loaves like this:

and sometimes I get loaves like this:

What did I do differently? I'm really not sure. Bread machines are one of the very rare places where I actually follow the recipe even to the actual measuring of the ingredients.....

Story on Thursday. Not about how I got different loaves, 'cause I don't know- but about how I got a cool bread machine to bless my family. :D

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To Purl or to Twist?

Well, I did not finish the socks last Thursday. But I did finish them last Friday! In fact, I was just a little bit selfish and finished the socks first thing in the morning instead of starting school on time. But we got school done too, so it was ok. :)

I am 6 inches away from finishing the 2nd sleeve of Joel's Erratic Argyle. So incredibly close. I am hoping to be able to finish it this evening- but not holding my breath as I have an amazing amount of paperwork to do tonight too.

I cast on a new sock design this last weekend. I have the toe of the sock almost done, and I must confess, the inspiration is not working very well. I am going to have to make a decision here soon about just what this pattern is going to be and I am rather stuck. I kind of want to do a knit purl texture on this sock, but I'm pretty sure the colors of the yarn will make it impossible to see any patterning done that way. So I thought cables, but I'm concerned for the same reason. In looking at this yarn, I'm really feeling like it is telling me it needs lace; but lace doesn't go with the inspiration at all! Now as I'm sitting here thinking about it, I'm wanting to do some sort of special construction technique to make it work, but the ones that are coming to my mind aren't really fitting into my plans either. I think a trip through the stitch dictionaries, followed by some time with Knit Visualizer is going to have to happen before I get any farther. Maybe even some sketching.
Sketching is not my strong point; but there are some designs that absolutely beg for it. Which probably means I will be casting on a completely different sock design with different yarn and needles tomorrow or Thursday. Perhaps this design needs to percolate a wee bit before it is ready to talk to me nicely....

I hear colorwork calling my name- and that is not this sock.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Random List

1) Today is my Husband's Birthday. We don't really get to celebrate because he is at work. But I intend to have a chocolate pie (his favorite) waiting for him when he comes home. :D

2) I am so incredibly close to finally finishing this pair of socks. If I can just get an hour and a half of peace this evening, I will be done.

3) There is no way in the world I will get the sleeves done for Joel's sweater before Valentine's Day. I know this, because it would take a full day of knitting, and I won't have that before Monday. But I might get it done before next weekend. Here's hoping.

4) I'm clueless when it comes to telescopes and constellations. Really, totally clueless.

5) I'm supposed to be teaching my children about the Solar System. Some wonderful friends lent us their telescope.

6) I spent an hour trying to look through the telescope on Tuesday evening. It was a perfect evening for it- quite clear.

7) I couldn't see a thing. Yes, I took the lense caps off!!!! I even spotted on a streetlamp, and still could only see through the spotting scope and not the actual telescope.

8) The blog tour continues: I'll be at Sunset Cat Designs tomorrow, and Digitalnabi on Monday! Hope to "see" you there!

9) I can't believe it's time to clean the bathrooms again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I was good.
Sort of.
I didn't do the swatch after all.
I discovered that when I had frogged back to the heel, I wasn't comfortable leaving it. I put it on the needles right away so I wouldn't lose any stitches. So my needles were busy, and I had none for the swatch.

So....I....used a different size needles, and put the sleeves of Joel's Erratic Argyle sweater on them.
So I do now have two WIP's - which I haven't done for a long time- but every once in a while it has to happen.
I can't really show you pictures of the sock, because while I did change the design a bit- it's not enough to be obvious to anyone but me, so you'll have to wait for the book for those pictures.
I can, however show you the sweater. Not that you can actually see what is happening with it. I'm having a hard time seeing what is happening with it, and I'm the one knitting it. That whole stockinette stitch with black yarn thing.

So this is what I'm doing. I decided to not waste any time whatsoever with it- so rather than frogging and winding the sleeve only to re-knit it- I'm frogging as I knit. It's going pretty well, really. Although, I had forgotten how very much the dye on this yarn bleeds. I have to wash my hands every time I put this project down. Which is a lot with my busy life!
Besides knitting part of the Erratic Argyle again, I also took a little time and re-worked the pattern and put it up for sale on Ravelry. So if you weren't able to get this pattern when it was published in Yarn Forward, you can get it now
I'm wanting to finish the sleeves before Valentine's Day, so Joel can have it then, but that is probably very unrealisitic especially since Dear Joel has long arms to correspond to his perfect manly height. (and he doesn't like it when the sleeves don't fit. Ask me how I know.)

I need to get the Roo off the table now- but just a reminder, I'll be at Knit-a-While tomorrow, stop in for a visit and a chance to win a pattern.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

My goal right now- barring a certain level of craziness- is to post twice a week. I managed that last week; so consider this your extra for the week.
Next week, there will be a little extra as well- I'll be going on a tour from my chair. A Blog Tour. I'll be starting the Tour on Wednesday at Knit-A-While. So if you want a little extra, that's where you'll find it. I'll try to post here when and where the next stop on the tour will be. There'll be some pattern giveaways along with my babble, so head over for a visit. Wednesday, at Knit-A-While.

And if you'd like to participate in by hosting a stop on the tour, contact Ida at . Or if you are a designer or indie dyer, and would like to do a blog tour, you can also contact Ida at the address above.

Back page story:
I did fix the 2nd sock. I can now get it on my foot and I am pleased with it. I am now in the process of frogging the leg of the 1st sock to fix it.

I must confess, I was unable to stick to my original design. I'd already knit it 1.5 times, and like I said, I was done with it. So I adjusted it just a bit, and the recipient will be getting an original, b/c this design adjustment will not be written down for repetition. It's not that different. But it's enough for me to notice and feel like I'm not knitting this pattern endlessly. ;)
My problem right now is forcing myself to put this sock back on the needles before I cast on something else on those needles.

I only have one pair of most needle sizes. US 0's included. There's a good reason for that. No, 2 good reasons for that. 1)I don't have extra money to get more than one pair of the nice needles that I want. 2) it forces me to complete projects and not have WIP's all over the house when I get startitis. Well, at least not WIP's on the same size needles!! ;)
So at the moment, I need the 0's to finish this sock I'm frogging- but there is a new design I need/want to get going on that requires the 0's. The yarn is sitting on my shelves next to my knitting chair begging me to cast it on before I finish this fix. I'm trying to be strong......but I may have to do a swatch really quick. Just a swatch....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Trying to keep my knits about me

Yesterday, I finished reading this book:

Yes, it's been available for awhile now. Yes, I'm slow. But I did get the book, and I did read the book (in 3days), and I did enjoy the book, and I do recommend the book.

It's good! Shannon has put together a must-read for those that aspire to enter the world of handknit designing. (yes, that even sounds cliche' to me) But truly, I think there is some great advice in there. And I will probably be going back to it again and again as a reference guide and advice column as I continue to design.
I was happy to see that I wasn't completely off-track with what I'm doing. I have to admit, that was one reason I got the book... ;)

Yesterday, I also continued in my procrastination of working on the socks I currently have on my US size 0 needles. Not b/c I don't like them, but b/c I'm a bit discouraged with them. I knit one of the socks, after futzing(I don't know how to spell it, I only know how it sounds. No, I don't know if it's a real word, but I don't care, I'm going to use it anyway, 'cause I say it all the time as it is.) around with the design for awhile. And I was happy with it.
And then I tried to put it on.
And then I had my daughter try to put it on.
And then I sent it to the person that I made it for and had her try to put it on.
And then I got it back in the mail with the note that said "Sorry! I can't get it on, either!"
:insert big sigh here:
So I took out the binding (it was a toe-up), and tried again to put it on.
And then, I finally admitted- the whole thing is way too small.
And I put it in the frog pond; and proceeded to try to fix the 2nd one that was already on the needles and 1/4 of the way done.
Still working on it. But now it's 1/2way done, and I am done with this design.

This happens to me a lot.
I make a design. I knit the design. I love the design. I look at the design, and I smile.
Then I realize I have to knit the design again. And I'm done. It was nice the first time.
And I say to myself: "Self, this is why you are a designer. When you design, you get to knit something brand new. HOWEVER, self, now you must be good and FINISH this pair of socks BEFORE starting the next design."
(Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, my children look at me oddly for it. I don't care.)

So I'm trying. I'm knitting the sock. Then I WILL frog the leg of the other and finish it too. I will.

But in the meantime.....

I dug out a sweater I did a while ago for Yarn Forward magazine. Remember this? This is the Erratic Argyle. I like it. My husband likes it.
But he won't wear it.
That is why you see it now- with the sleeves off, and the child standing on it trying to get my attention.
I have to fix the sleeves so he'll wear it. He said they are puffy and girly. Ok. I can fix that. I can fix that while I teach the kids about the stars. I am good at frogging while talking. So yesterday, this is how I procrastinated.
Tomorrow, I'll knit on the socks......