Monday, April 13, 2009

Not so much with the knitting content...

Well, it's been crazy in Anna-land the last week. Assignments struck, rendering me insanely busy up until Thursday, and then comatose for a few days afterwards. So not that much knitting has taken place. I know - tsk, tsk...

However, I did bake hot cross buns! On Good Friday specifically, because even though I'm not a particularly religious person, the cultural history student in me loves the idea of this kind of tradition - making something on a particular day of the year. It's like Nigella Lawson points out in Feast - there are so few examples of this kind of thing (i.e. truly seasonal/occasional cooking) left, and I think that that's a shame. I find it more than a little weird and off-putting that you can buy hot cross buns in the shops for months before and after Easter, so I suppose that this is my small way of rebelling against that kind of thing, especially since I'm making them myself and all.

(on a less pretentious note, I worked in a bakery for years and am now officially sick of bought hot cross buns...)

There's the dough, looking all... erm... doughy!

Cute little buns, pre-crossing, on the tray. I hadn't realised how experienced I'd gotten with handling dough (what with having spent the better part of the last five years working in either a bakery or a pizza shop) until I started kneading and shaping these little guys - it just came back all of a sudden, and I could do it on auto pilot!

Piping the crosses on is definitely my favourite part. Even though I always make a chronic mess of the kitchen/my clothing in the process...

This isn't a great photo - for some reason I neglected to take a decent picture of the finished product (I was probably in too much of a hurry to insert them into my mouth - I'd polished three of them off within ten minutes of them coming out of the oven), but they definitely came out well. I was particularly pleased with the texture - much lighter and fluffier than any homemade bread I'd made before. I used proper bread flour this time, which probably explains it.

So there you have it: hot cross buns from start to finish. Nom nom nom... I think everyone should make their own actually - it's fun, easy, and really not as time consuming as you'd think, since you can do other things with yourself while the dough is proving/rising.

In knitting news, I acquired more yarn on Thursday. Or rather, my yarn from the States got here on Thursday. Tsk - I am definitely not allowed to buy more until I've used up some of what I have... Ah well, at least I never feel too much guilt over the yarn habit - I rarely eat/go anywhere expensive with friends, the clothes I own that aren't home-made usually come from either the op-shop or Target, and even my books mostly come from the library, so yarn is basically my only extravagance. Well, yarn and tea, but it takes so long to go through tea that it hardly feels like it counts...

I've started knitting not one but two new things: a Snow White in dark green, and a Kaleidoscope in, um, green (yes yes, I have a problem, I know - but it is a totally different shade!).

I've been wanting to make the former for a very long time, but never quite got around to it. And even though I bought the pattern a few months back, it's taken me a while to get around to finding some suitable yarn. And then for a while I was scared of the required cast-on. I am not well versed in cast-ons, not by any stretch of the imagination. And this pattern called for a long-tailed-tubular cast-on. Gulp.

It took me all afternoon (and several cramps in my fingers) to get it right, but get it right I did. I'm rather proud actually - definitely glad I persevered. And it counts towards my LSG Mistress of Knitting challenge (where learning new things and challenging yourself is kind of, um, the whole point of the exercise) for April, so there was some added incentive there too.

As for the Kaleidoscope cardigan... What can I say, other than that I think I've officially become one of those masochists who makes garments in fingering weight yarn... Let's see just how much of my sanity it consumes before it's finished. On the up-side, I finally got my mitts on some 'Happy Forest' Dream in Colour Smooshy (a shade that I'd been trying to get a hold of for a while) with which to make said sanity-devouring piece of knitwear. It's a very beautiful mid-green - a little lighter than I was hoping, given some of the pictures I'd seen online, but I'm still happy with it. Dad said that he thinks that it's ugly, but he isn't the one who has to knit a whole bloody cardigan out of it, so somehow I just don't think that his evaluation is the one that matters here...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Guilty update...

Well, I'm quite thoroughly repulsive for posting now, because I really should be doing my Admin Law assignment before I go out making merry. But instead I'm indulging in the blog. For shame.

Anyway, in case you all hadn't noticed, I'm still alive. The crazy kind of busy, but definitely still breathing. Uni is running me down, but in a week I get a brief reprieve from it due to the Easter break, so hopefully there'll be some breathing space soon on that front. Japanese is still heaps of fun - I got embarrassingly excited yesterday because I could read some of the hiragana on the back of my packet of soba noodles. I was happy all afternoon because of that. I'm keeping up with my '52 Books' challenge and various creative writing pursuits too, as wordy blog will testify.

Anyway, here are the developments on the craft front:

1. I made reference to a silly knitted thing at the end of the last post. Well, ladies and gentlement, without further ado I give you... the engagement lobster!

The nitty gritty: Knit Lobster (Ravelry link) by Molly Lincoln. Knitted with a small amount of double stranded Lincraft DK acrylic yarn, on a set of 3.25mm dpns

The colour commentary: I was quite happy with how this little guy came out, even if the double stranded yarn on small needles was rather painful on the hands. I don't make toys often, but I enjoyed this one, or as much as one can enjoy knitting to a strict deadline (does tend to suck the joy out of the whole affair). Dodgy photo I know, but I finished this one with only a couple of minutes to spare, so there wasn't much time for meticulous photography. I didn't even have time to give the little guy his lobster whiskers! Oh well, the couple in question thoroughly approved of their lobster, at any rate. And don't worry - I do plan to give them a slightly less ridiculous wedding present...

2. Scarf!

The boring stuff: Basic mistake rib scarf in Dream in Color Classy (100% wool, about 1.6 skeins), 'November Muse' colourway, on 5.5mm straight needles.

The colour commentary: Not very interesting, I know, but it had come to my attention that most all of the scarves that I owned were kind of, erm, bright! Retina searingly bright. So this was my attempt at something a little more understated. I'm very pleased with how it came out. It's huge too! Over eight feet long, I'd say, as I just can't abide a stingy scarf :) If I did this one over I probably would have made it a little wider, but at least the fact that it's a little on the skinny side means that I can wear it in milder weather.

Oh, I've said so before, but I love Dream in Color yarn. So much. I've never come across any that was anything less than gorgeous... The fact that there is some more winging its way to me from the States as we speak makes me a very happy Anna indeed... Hey, what can I say? The planets aligned, the pathetic Aussie dollar rallied, and I got given an extra shift at work. Coincidence? I think not. If the universe wants to buy yarn, who am I to argue?

3. Hat!

The details: Vortex by Lee Meredith. Knitted with Noro Silk Garden (Colour 86, about half a ball) and Dream in Color Classy (leftovers from above project!) on 5.5 mm straight needles.

The colour commentary: I love this hat so much that it's embarrassing. This photo is testament to how much I love it. I am all of thirty-five seconds out of bed in this photo. Literally. I wanted a non-wet-hair photo of the hat, so I rolled out of bed, pulled on my dressing gown (see that suspiciously satiny looking black thing I'm wearing? Yep, that's a dressing gown), ran a hand through my hair (comb, what's that?), walked out into the hallway and took this photo (oh, and a couple more that don't bear speaking of). And I'm willing to post my eyes-glazed over looking, pre-shower self on the internet. Just because I love this hat, and couldn't wait any longer to put up a photo of it.

This design is constructed quite unconventionally - it's knitted side to side on straight needles, shaped using short rows, and then grafted together at the end. The pattern is genius - this is by far the funnest hat I've ever knitted. The moment I finished it I informed my brother that he would be receiving one of his own in the near future, because I wanted an excuse to make another. Fun and easy and quick - what's not to love?

The fact that I used two of my favourite yarns to make it probably doesn't hurt either, but the pattern really is great. The only mod I made to it was to wrap my short rows, because with my loose gauge it looked weird and gappy when I didn't. It's a forgiving pattern too - I think I messed up the grafting in a couple of places (hey, it was really late at night), and it hardly shows. Also, doing stripes by carrying the not-in-use yarn up the side of the knitting works so well that I can't believe that I've never done it before...

Now I just need to make one for Richard so that he can wear his own, instead of just filling in as a head model for me...

Now: off to go and do my Admin work like a good little law student (you know, one who doesn't have a terminal crafting fixation...)