June 2010 Archives

Nicole, Continued

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While I continue to ponder what I am going to do with my new handspun, and whether I am going to spin the contrasting chocolately brown that I purchased to go with it (I was thinking sock heels and toes, but now I am not so sure I want this lovely stuff to be hidden in my shoes), I decided to get back in touch with an ongoing project.  It seemed a little silly to let Nicole languish with just two short straps to complete, so I put aside my wheel for a bit to rectify the situation.

20100531_Nicole.jpgAnd because I love the lace details:

20100531_NicoleLacyDetail.jpgAll that remains now are the armhole and neckline treatments and then I'll be off to shop for buttons while I block it out.  Much blocking she will need, will Nicole, if she is going to lay right and not have a curly bottom.  I'm quite looking forward to getting her to the end zone.


Summer Scarf

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While I work on the blocking and buying of buttons for Nicole, I've gotten started on another little project: a summer lace scarf made out of this:

20100607_NoroLaceWeight.jpgI found Noro Sekku at Knit Around in Ann Arbor on a recent visit to my parents' house.  I loved the colorway (quelle surprise, eh?), but really gave it a chance because of the fiber composition: 50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% nylon & 16% silk.  Lightweight and not too wooly, and a touch of nylon to make it durable.  I'm pretty sure it's colorway "04" but the ball band has gone missing at the moment (I was unable to remove the inner cardboard plug, so started knitting it from the outside in).

Because I wanted to emphasize the striping, I looked for a pattern that would make the fabric undulate a bit.  I've always loved "Tilting Blocks" out of Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns , and this seemed like the perfect time to test it out.

20100607_TiltingBloxScarf.jpgThis pattern can be worked with stockinette or garter stitch blocks separating the open blocks.  I set up three repeats of the pattern with a selvedge stockinette stitch on either edge, using 2.75 mm needles.  Then I chose to alternate garter and stockinette blocks, doing three rows of each and then switching back to add more texture.  I think the gauge is good for this project -- nice and soft and drapey, but the solid blocks are not too see-through.  With 460 yards in this skein, I'm hoping that I make it to at least 4' of scarf.   I thought about making it narrower, but liked the balance of the odd number of repeats best.

While this project isn't truly mindless, the pattern is much easier to memorize than you might think.  I'm enjoying it so much, I've been thinking about a summer sweater out of similar weight solid color yarn.  Hmmm....





Score One for the Hawks!

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It was a pretty good night to be out celebrating my sweetie's birthday last night.  There was Belgian ale.  And the Hawks did a nice job of adding some excitement to the evening as well.

Summer Cocktail: Grapefruit Gimlet

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As I have gotten older, I have gotten more interested in cocktails.  It's not that I like wine and beer less, it's more that I enjoy all the wildly different flavors and fantasies that come with a mixed drink.

When I was growing up, in the 70's, my parents, like most people at the time, had a fully stocked bar.  I was intrigued by all the bottles and paraphernalia that went along with mixing drinks -- but I never saw it in action very often.  Mom and Dad seemed most partial to simple drinks like the gin and tonic -- which I still think is the perfect, quintessential summer drink. 

It will sound funny to say, but some of my fascination has to do with the martini glass.  I love the shape.  It is sensual, fragile and a touch exotic all at once. It just looks so lovely when you hold it.  It's the kind of glass you can look knowingly over at your date and create some happy innuendo for the evening.  My first exposures came via the now somewhat overexposed Cosmopolitan (Sex and the City or no, this is still one of my favorites, if made well) and the Blue Agave Margarita that is made at Frontera Grill -- which I like to think of as the martini of margaritas.  Drinks that come in martini glasses are all the rage these days, and fashionably expensive in most of my favorite restaurants.  I began to wonder if it was possible for me to tackle some of these on my own.  After browsing through Epicurious, it became clear that quite a few yummy looking drinks could be made with pretty simple tools. So, tonight I finally got my act together and purchased my first two martini glasses ever -- along with as cocktail shaker -- so that I could try out a first drink: a Grapefruit Gimlet.

20100614_GrapefruitGimlet.jpgGrapefruit Gimlet (serves 2)
 
1/4 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. simple syrup
2 lime slices
Ice

Put the first 4 ingredients in the shaker and add ice.  Shake for 8 seconds and strain into glass.  Garnish with lime slices.

If I had been a wise woman, I would have chilled the glasses before I poured the drinks, or doubled the portions, because it only works out to about 4 ounces of beverage/glass, and the glass itself warms the drink up pretty quickly.

Otherwise, this drink earned a thumbs up from both the consenting adults in the house hold.  If you like grapefruit, this one is worth trying out!  

What Every Knitting Basket Needs

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I've had my 64 GB Wifi iPad since the end of May.  I've been holding off on this post, because my initial reaction was so positive that I was convinced that I needed to spend more time with it just to be sure that it was a fair reaction.

A month later, little has changed.  I love "my big iPod" (as Z has taken to referring to it) just as much today as I did on the day I cracked open the shrink wrap.  If anything, I love it more, because I just keep finding more things that make it better. 

It's an ideal crafter's companion, and it's currently helping me on both of my current projects:

20100620_iPadNicole.jpg20100620_iPadBlocks.jpg
Almost any PDF reader in the App Store allows you to easily transfer PDFs onto the device via iTunes.  GoodReader (that big green eye app in the top picture) is even more kinds of awesomeness because for 99 cents you can just point it to a PDF URL, like a browser, and it will pull the PDF into it's archives.  It also syncs up wonderfully with the email application, so that anything you get mailed to you can also be pulled into GoodReader without difficulty*.  I had thought that my Kindle was going to be my go to on the go pattern portfolio, but the iPad really blows it out of the water -- color rendering, easy tools to zoom in and out.  What's not to love?  There's also an app that lets you annotate PDFs. 

The number of crafting apps on the iPad is relatively small at the moment, but most things that you bought for your iPhone will transfer.  Granted, most run at lower resolution, but who needs an HD row counting tool?

Another set of tools that qualify as wonderful are the notebooks.  There are more than a few of them in the App Store that you can write in as if you were writing on paper, using your finger or a stylus (I recommend the stylus -- mine goes with me everywhere).  I used one of these, called Penultimate, in a weaving class to plan out my most recent project.  This app stores notes in "notebooks" and you can create notebooks for as many topics as you like and add to them as you need to.  Penultimate has a nice feature that allows you to rest your wrist on the device, for easier writing.   There are so many of these jotting tools that you should spend some time to find one that is right for you, depending on whether you like to write more or sketch more. 

I won't go into the book reader functionality too much except to say: it's great.  I use the Kindle reader more than the Apple book reader, but, either way I don't think you can lose.  Probably the better thing to mention is all the interactive childrens books that have come out.  If you share your iPad with a child, don't expect to get it back again for a little while.

As far as general features are concerned, this device feels very natural to me.  The onscreen keyboard is easy to type on when the device is in landscape mode, and the mail and calendar programs take the original iPhone versions to the next level.  It seems strange to gush about a calendar application, but the one on the iPad just knocks my socks off.  When it comes to browsing, the iPad really shows you how great it can be on a mobile device. I'd rather use it than my laptop.   A number of people have complained about the lack of a camera, but that hasn't really been a limitation for me -- the thing is large enough that it would be pretty unwieldy for taking pictures (if you really want to take pictures, get the CameraA/CameraB apps that allow you to connect your iPad to any iPhone in the vicinity with the CameraB app).  I do wish it was easier to transfer pictures on to the device (if it had an SD slot, it would be my ultimate blogging machine), and I am bummed by the fact that Apple has not incorporated a mechanism for you to sort and organize pictures in the photo manager (how hard could it be to let you set up albums for pictures of certain types?). 

When it comes to battery life, the iPad rocks and rocks and rocks some more -- you could easily get a full days' use out of the device without a recharge.  The only days I've had to recharge it on a nightly cycle were when I was playing a lot of games on it.  Can you say "ideal airplane companion"? And if you're used to an iPhone, the speed of the iPad is going to impress you.  Everything moves quickly and comfortably.  I've been asked if I miss the 3G connectivity, and, truthfully, I don't.  All the places I use it have Wifi.  At this point, I don't consider the iPad a CTA bus friendly device. 

I know a lot of folks stay away from "1st Generation" products on principle.  But the iPad doesn't feel like a first gen device.  And that's really no surprise -- 3 generations of iPhones have led the way.  When the multi-tasking OS 4 makes it to this device it's going to be almost perfect. 

If this is where this device is starting out, I can't wait to see where it goes.

* I hope it goes without saying that you should never ever put anything on your device that you don't have the right to use, right? 

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