Sunday, October 31, 2010

October Leaves

Although this could be a post about the glorious fall foliage display C and I observed this week in our travels, I am instead talking of the October Leaves fingerless mitts I just finished. My sister requested a pair of fingerless mitts for work. Since knitting requests from family are like kryptonite to me, I eagerly set out to find the perfect pattern. I've made several different mitts over the years and find my favorites are the ones knit with fingering weight yarn (sock yarn). They fit close to the hand so they are unobtrusive when you are trying to type or use your hands for any reason, yet they still provide plenty of warmth. I also wanted a pattern with a bit of interest. The October Leaves pattern by Abbie Tilden looked to be the perfect choice.

The color requested was grey or black and a quick search of my stash produced a gorgeous grey superwash sock yarn. I was off and running.
The mitts only took 11 days to complete. The pattern calls for cables up both sides of the hand. But after a few rows in this fashion, I decided the outside cable was too much. I much preferred the single cable running up the thumb side and blooming into the leaves that frame the thumb.This pattern is super easy. I manged most of the 4 stitch cables without a cable needle. When I did need a cable needle I used a lightly sanded round toothpick since none of the cable needles I own were small enough for such fine yarn. This worked wonderfully. The only other modification I made was to knit the top (hand) ribbing on smaller needles to keep the fit snug around the knuckles. There's nothing worse on mitts than the top edge being loose and bunching up.

The only problem I had with this project was the yarn. The yarn was a gorgeous mottled grey handdyed sock yarn. It is delightfully soft and a pleasure to knit with. However, I washed the mitts and then laid them outside to dry. When I went back to check o
n them a few hours later, I discovered the side facing up had turned green!I've never had a yarn change color on me. It was so weird. After checking the yarn label, I found the dyer DID say to dry them out of direct sunlight, so it is entirely my fault. The green was an interesting color and had I been able to get the second side to fade the same way they might have been usable. However, the request was not for green mitts so I took to my dye pot and overdyed them. Two dyebaths later, the mitts emerged a fabulous charcoal grey.

They are on my hands now as I type and I adore them. Sis, I do hope you love them too.
It's a wrench parting with them but it makes me feel good knowing you'll have warm (and I must say, smartly dressed) hands thanks to me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sherlock

A few months ago when R first told me about the new Sherlock coming to PBS's Masterpiece Mystery,  I was dubious. The preview looked flashy and I just couldn't imagine Sherlock Holmes set in current day London. Few can match Jeremy Brett's portrayal of the sleuth in my book. Thus I tucked it away in the back of my mind and more or less forgot about it. While browsing the channel guide last night I discovered the show had started so I decided to give it a watch. Wow. I mean, WOW. Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing as Holmes. He plays the fast talking detective to a T. The character observes everything and processes his observations lightening fast. Martin Freeman's Watson is an excellent foil to the genius. I love the way the show uses text cues to help the viewer get the clues. My one and only disappointment was the scene where they tracked the GPS location of the victim's cell phone and were stymied by it's apparent location. Given other clues in the scene, specifically Mrs. Hudson's announcement, it was pretty obvious where the phone was and who the killer was. But everyone was standing around scratching their heads. Sherlock does, of course, figure it out, and maybe it was just a dramatic pause to show his thought process. Other than that one minor complaint, I give the show highest marks.

Favorite line "Dear god, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring."

Sherlock is available on DVD as well as on demand at PBS.org (I assume this will only be for a while though).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good stuff

My Future Primitive order arrived this week and as expected, this soap rocks.The soaps are all wrapped in pretty glassine paper with cigar band labels. They smell phenomenal (although you can not smell them through the wrapper, I opened up the ends to smell them.) In addition to the 3 soaps I ordered, Tiggy sent a sample of her White Witch soap which immediately found a home by the bathroom sink. I've been using it all week and it is simply divine. I know, I'm gushing, but really, this soap is quite possibly the best I've ever tried. Not only does it look glorious, but it is also darn good soap. The bars are nice and hard and work into a creamy highly scented lather. The scent is long lasting on my skin. The ultimate test is face washing. I can use this on my face with out even a hint dryness. I will definitely be buying more soaps from her.

Next good thing this week is applesauce. With local apples being dirt cheap and my co-worker extolling the virtues of homemade applesauce, I decided to give it a try. I washed and cut up enough apples to fill my 6 quart dutch oven (peels, cores and all go in the pot). I used a variety of apples...Rome, Macintosh, Stayman, and Yellow Delicious and just about an inch of water. Cover and cook on high until the water boils. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are super soft. I let it cool slightly then ran the cooked apples through my food mill. From about 5 quarts of apples, I ended up with 3 pints of applesauce.
So so yummy and incredibly easy. 2 pints went into the freezer and the other jar will disappear in no time, I'm sure. I will definitely be buying more apples this week to make a big batch for the freezer.

I finished reading Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton this week. It is the first in a knitting themed cozy mystery series. This was an enjoyable, light read. It is obvious it is meant to be a series as there were tons of characters introduced and a lot of story lines that didn't seem to have resolutions. The characters were all very likable and the setting a dream come true for a knitter (the knit shop is set side by side with a coffee shop/cafe in an old farmhouse, sigh). It was refreshing to read a cozy where the main character didn't end up at death's doorstep through their stupid heroics. I'm sure I'll be reading more from this series.

Now I'm trying to settle on my next book and having difficulty finding something to fit my mood. I've started several books this week and nothing seems the right fit. Instead, I'm watching season 4 of Corner Gas. Hilarious!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scary Gary

I've been meaning to post about this comic for ages.
Scary Gary


 Scary Gary follows the "life" of vampire Gary. Gary is reformed and doesn't hunt people. He lives with his henchman, Leopold, a goblin-type creature who is most definitely NOT reformed. The strip is hilarious and smart. Do check it out if you want a good laugh.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Soap p*rn

Everyone knows, I've got a weird obsession with soap (the stuff that gets you clean, not that crap on afternoon TV). My obsession with soap led me to start soaping a few years back. I've made a good number of batches of soap, some good, few unusable, most just average. Soap making is easy. Soap artistry, on the other hand, is something I have yet to achieve. I'm not giving up soaping. But I have allowed myself the luxury and shear pleasure of browsing (and buying) soaps from some mighty talented soapers. Here I'm highlighting the ones I ordered from recently. (pictures captured from each vendor).
I picked up a few melt and pour type soaps from Solstice Scents a month or so ago.
Monster Mash
Harvest Moon
Monster Mash and Harvest Moon.  These smell great and are quiet pretty to look at. She uses a good glycerin soap base that isn't at all drying to the skin. They leave a light scent on your skin as well. If you like M and P soaps, these would be great to try.

But what really makes my heart sing is fabulous cold process soap. And boy-howdy have I found some FANTASTIC examples.

The Morbid the Merrier has become my number one favorite indy perfumer. Her Sleepy Hollow scents are fabulous. And her general collection Absinthe and Cocoa Absinthe are my new favorite day to day scents. She released a few soaps related to the Sleepy Hollow series and I snatched them both up...
Baltus
Brom
Sadly, there are no companion perfumes, but I can content myself with soaps. These are generous 4-5 oz bars wrapped with a paper band adorned with Lysa's sideshow-esque labels. There's a sort of plastic half wrap that keeps the tops and bottoms of the soaps clean while sitting on the shelf but still allows you to smell the delicious scents. I haven't tried them yet but am storing them in my chest of drawers where they keep my tee shirts smelling yummy.

Next up I picked up some soaps form English Major Soaps. These soaps all have a literary theme. They come wrapped in pages from an old book. (For the life of me I can't get pictures to load so you'll have to click the links to see the soaps.) The 3 I chose are Cask of Amontillado, Beowulf and Dante's Inferno. The imbed in Cask is supposed to resemble the bars of a cell, awesome, and the scent is definitely wine like. Beowulf is scented with dragonsblood. Dante had the least amount of scent so I put that one to use right away. The soap lathers well and is gentle on the skin.

When I saw Future Primitive on someone's blog (might have been TMTM) I about fell off my seat. Now THESE are some rockin' soaps.
No. 11
One Ring
Lagoon
Her scents lean more towards nature (lavender, geranium, patchouli, etc). I pretty much want every scent she offers. She's in England and shipping can add up  fast so I limited myself to 2 bars and a sample. One Ring, Lagoon and No 11. I'm waiting for my order to arrive but I am sure they won't disappoint.