Pensive Frog

A melange of cooking, baking, knitting, craftyness, and TV-aholicism.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Finally Found It

My camera has re-emerged, so here's a pic of the finished Coronet hat. The color is wildly inaccurate - it's actually a dark teal color. The pattern worked ok, but I had to do three fewer repeats on the cabled band to get the required length. That meant fewer available stitches to pick up around the band for the crown of the hat, but I think it turned out nicely. Did I mention how soft it is?


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Questions, Questions

Well, still looking for my camera, so no new pix. I know it made it back from vacation, because we scavenged its batteries to use in the TV remote just the other day. So we'll have to make do with some verbal artistry. Cough. Anyway, I tried to get a start on the Clapotis, but it ended in disaster. I had completed about 50 rows, when I suddenly had 3 stitches where there should have been one. I ripped back a few rows to try to get past the mistake, and then a few rows more. I thought I was on the right track, but the column of twisted stitches was offset by one stitch from my previous work. Three TiVo'd episodes of Gilmore Girls later, I was back at the begininng. I'm not very good at ripping back and picking up my knitting in the middle, it's definitely something I have to work on. This piece is especially challenging, with its yarn overs, twisted stitches, and steady stream of increases. I'll give it a rest and start again later. So that brings me to a question posed by a reader a few weeks ago - what does the name "pensive frog" have to do with cooking, crafting, and the other things this blog is supposedly about? Now, many of my favorite blogs have titles that are utter non sequiturs, but there is no such thing as a dumb question (I suppose). While a pensive frog could be a thoughtful amphibian, it also describes the process of thoughtfully considering the horrible mess one has made of one's knitting, then slowly, reluctantly, perhaps even hopefully ripping the completed work into its constituent yarn. And, for the uninitiated, "frogging" is knitting jargon for "unraveling" (rip it, rip it = ribbit, ribbit). I didn't make it up, so it is what it is. Next question: someone else asked me for tips on the lined and zippered Kureyon pouch. I think I cast on 30 stitches on 10.5 needles, and I knitted until I had a loooooong rectangle (like a mini-scarf). I then folded it over and sewed it into a pita pocket thingy. The procedure of adding the lining and zipper consisted mainly of eyeballing, holding in place, cutting, re-cutting, and sloppy basting stitches. I'm not a seamstress, but if I can do it, anyone certainly can. Soft focus pictures also help a lot.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Back from away

I'm back from vacation, and I ended up abandoning my plans to tackle Clapotis on the road. I'm not very good at working complicated patterns while carrying on conversations, and that's what visiting family for the holidays is all about. I did complete the cashmerino Coronet, photos to be posted as soon as I unearth the digicam from the wreckage that is our condo. In food news, last night we made bubble tea at home! We made vanilla Earl Grey milk tea with rainbow bubbles, it worked quite well. Okay, this is dull without photos, so I'll work on finding that camera!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Knitting on the Run

Now that I'm finally done with finals week, I'm taking a few days off blogging as I travel to the nether regions of America for Christmas, also known as the land of very few LYSs. I leave you with a photo of what will be my holiday travel project, a version of Clapotis worked in cost-efficient Lara yarn from Elann. I was banking on winning a poetry contest that would let me buy enough Silk Garden to make a very special Clapotis, but then I realized that my poem was... eh. Happy Holidays to all!


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Oh no he didn't!

It seems like most of my TV-based posts are about the Amazing Race, but it's so darn amazing, I can't help myself. It was quite amazing, for example, that Bolo could have thought it was a good idea to nosh on some of the raw pork he was making into sausages. Perhaps pro wrestlers are not familiar with trichinellosis? Well, we'll just be on the lookout for eye swelling and itchy skin in the next episode. I was particularly amazed by the close-in shot of Bolo tonguing a stringy, dangly bit of pork off his nose. Gagh! Anyway, the photo below is proof that the Cuzco poncho is done! This one is earmarked for my sister, but I ordered more yarn to make myself one, as well. The neck hole is a little wide, but that's ok. Right now, I've started working on the Coronet hat in a lovely dark teal shade of Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran. It's probably the nicest yarn I've ever worked with, softness-wise. The pattern calls for Brown Sheep Worsted, but I gave that a feel and decided it was too scratchy. The cashmerino is purrrrrrfect.

Ecce Cuzco!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Well, that's a fine how-do-you-do!

Okay, Super Eggplant has a new tutorial on making fancy drawstring bags, so I thought I'd post my simplified instructions as well. The downside to my pattern is that you get raw fabric edges where the drawstring comes out. If you want all your edges hemmed, trot on over to SE. Step 1: cut out a rectangle of fabric and iron it flat. I used about 8"x10" pieces. Put the rectangle on your ironing board, wrong side up. On the long side of the rectangle, fold down a hem about 1" wide and iron it flat. Now, get your drawstring. It should be about twice as long as the long side of your rectangle. Tuck the drawstring in the hem, against the crease. Now, sew the hem, making sure not to sew over your drawstring. Then, fold your pouch in half, wrong side out. Now you're going to sew an L-shaped seam and finish the bag. Starting at the fold, sew the bottom of your pouch shut. When you get to the corner, simply lift the sewing machine foot, turn the pouch 90 degrees, lower the foot, and go! So now you've sewn all the way up to the top of the bag where the drawstring is. Turn the pouch right side out, tie the drawstring ends together, and you're done.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Happy Sugardays!

For the past few years, my husband and I have made some sort of crafty stocking stuffer for our family members at Christmas. Last year it was holiday marble magnets, a la Not Martha. The year before, we made a blend of mulling spices for apple cider. This year, it's hot cocoa mix in little holiday sacks. I used the hot cocoa recipes listed in this month's Sunset magazine, but there is something terribly wrong with their ratios. The first batch of cocoa was quite salty. Since I didn't want this year's gift to be remembered as "The Salty Cocoa Disaster of 2004", I changed the ratios and made my own mix. I would suggest 1 C powdered milk, 1 C cocoa powder (we used van Houten brand from Trader Joes), 1 C sugar, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 C mini chocolate chips, and 1/4 C white chocolate chips. When I doubled the recipe, I also threw in a packet of vanilla sugar. For mocha cocoa, I added 1 T instant coffee to the basic recipe. To make cocoa, combine 1/4 C mix with 1 C boiling water. Voila! For the stocking stuffers, I'm putting 3 servings of mix in ziploc bags, then tucking each one inside a drawstring pouch. Instructions are printed on photo paper and attached to each drawstring.

Stocking Stuffers

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I said it was quick

Here's the Cuzco poncho, all laid out and blocked on Friday. Recall that I started knitting on this thing Wednesday morning. Now it's all dry and ready to be seamed, but I don't know if I can concentrate enough during the Survivor finale (and obligate reunion special). Who will it be? Manly Chris (I have partially begun to forgive him for that awful tank top), Annoying Eliza (aka Skeletor), Paranoid Twila (she swears a lot, have you noticed?), or Leathery Scout (should have been gone ages ago)? Whatever happens, I will just thank the powers that be for Jeff Probst's totally hetero choker necklaces. Long may they... choke.


Friday, December 10, 2004

It's now or never

Cuzco poncho, or something Elvis pulled out of his shower drain?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Quick like a bunny

If anyone has need of a quick holiday gift project, I can highly recommend the Cuzco poncho, free pattern available from Elann. I've worked on it for about 4 hours (watching TV, on the bus), and I'm almost a third of the way done. I think it will look very nice, the yarn is wonderfully soft, and it would make a great scarf in a few hours as well. The stitch pattern is very easy, and on #15 needles, it flies. I'm very tempted to get another batch of yarn to make a poncho for myself...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tick Tock

I didn't get home until late last night because I was out knitting, but there's always time to queue up Amazing Race on the TiVo. Jonathan and Victoria were especially well-behaved in Senegal, perhaps it was the calming effect of Jonathan's furry blue Gilligan hat, kinda like this, but leopard print. I feel nervous about Don and MJ - it's just a matter of time before they keel over. And did that ferry to Ile Goree remind anyone of those ferries that are always sinking, taking hundreds of passengers to a watery grave? Heebie Jeebies. Oh, and I got my poncho yarn from Elann in record time - I placed my order Sunday, and it was waiting on my doorstep last night. When the USPS says priority mail, they really mean it!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Last night as I was trying to go to sleep, I was hit with the realization that there will probably never be another season of Average Joe. The producers did a really good job of filming Average Joe 1 and 2 simultaneously so as not to give away the premise, but darn it, why couldn't there be Average Joe 3? It was such a wonderful guilty pleasure, and I felt such glee (and perhaps a touch of schadenfreude) when the "hunky" guy who got the girl eventually dumped the girl when her dark secret was revealed - she used to date Fabio. Oh, if only we all could have such dark secrets! Anyway, I guess I'll have to get my weekly dose of love/hate glee watching the Jonathan and Victoria melee tonight on the Amazing Race.

Monday, December 06, 2004

New new new!

Hooray, the new winter knitty is out and boy, there are lots of good projects in there! I am a huge fan of small projects, due to their portability and (theoretical) quick finishing time. Just the other day I put in an Elann order for 6 balls of Peruvian Collection Cuzco to make their Cuzco poncho. My sister requested a poncho for Christmas, and maybe I'll have it finished by the 12th day of Christmas. It's fitting to make her a garment out of yarn named Cuzco - she has happy memories of altitude sickness in Cuzco (gateway to the Inca trail) a few years ago. This yarn is lofty, but not enough to give you a nosebleed. Here's to adventure!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Here's a little thing

I made this little pouch with some Noro Kureyon I had leftover from making a Booga Bag. I just knitted a long rectangle, then sewed it together into a long pouch. Into the washer for some felting, then I sewed in a fabric liner and added a zipper! I had never done linings or zippers before, but I found that if you sort of hold the pieces together and stitch them to stay where you want them, it works out ok. Of course, if you look closely, you can see that I am the worst hand-sewer ever. Luckily, no one ever looks closely. In a related project, I made a Booga Bag for my sister, and made a little lined zip-up coin purse out of the leftover Noro from her bag. I may never have leftover yarn again!! Yeah, right.

Goody bag

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Uncaged melody...

I utterly forgot to mention one hideous and hilarous detail of Thanksgiving. So I ordered my turkey from the aforementioned Larry's Market. I had the choice of a free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free turkey, the same from California (la di da) OR - the Northwest Natural, a turkey without all the hype. All I really cared about was that my turkey not be injected with a saline solution, a la Butterball, so I went with the cheaper Northwest Natural. All was fine until I drove the turkey home (named her Midge, by the way), and unwrapped her. Midge was a wee bit gimpy. Her right wing was fine, but her left wing terminated in a stub halfway down. It was hard to tell if this was a congenital anomaly, or if Midge was a fightin' turkey (Rizzo, perhaps?). Of course, all I could think of was the fact that Midge was raised in a cage, probably with dozens of other turkeys, and perhaps one day after feeding time, Farmer John tried to close the cage, but found that there was no room for Midge's wingtip. Can't you just see it, a huge cage stuffed with turkeys all topsy-turvy, Farmer John beating back the birds with a broom or an upturned stool? ("Back, back, ye turkeys!") Ultimately, Midge in toto wouldn't fit, so Farmer John got the clippers and snip, there it went. All I can say is that it was a good thing I didn't have my heart set on the magazine cover-caliber turkey presentation. And next year, I'll spring for that imported bird - la turkey. Or is it, L.A. Turkey?