Knitstant Gratification

The crafting adventures of a knitter, music lover, and hockey fan.

Archive for March, 2011

Say cheese!

Posted by Andi on March 26, 2011

Tim tried making homemade ricotta cheese a few weeks ago. I didn’t get to try it, but I don’t think he was thrilled with the results. He said it had the texture of marscapone. Still, he ate it all.

Last Sunday we were at the supermarket. I asked what was next on the list to pick up, and he said ricotta. I asked if he wanted to buy ricotta or buy the ingredients needed to make ricotta at home. We decided to pick up the ingredients and make it at home. Really, we only needed to pick up milk. We had the rest.

Ricotta ingredients
Here, with the exception of the sieve and pot, are what you need to make ricotta: salt, cheese cloth, lemon juice, cream, and whole milk. Those red velvet cookies in the back of the photo? They were quite tasty, though they would have been better if they had a cream cheese icing instead of regular icing.

Pour the milk in a pot. We used the whole half gallon container.
Adding the milk

Then add a cup of cream.
Adding the cream

And then the salt. I’m not sure how much salt we added. Tim found the recipe online, and I didn’t see it. I will ask him where the recipe is and add it to this post later.
Adding the salt

Then you stir it up, and wait for it to come to a boil.
Stir

While we were waiting for the milk to boil we set up the strainer. We used a large mixing bowl, and a sieve lined with cheese cloth.
Prepare for straining

Once everything came to a boil, we added the lemon juice, reduced the heat to a simmer, and stirred until curds started forming.
Adding lemon juice

And then it’s time to strain!
Straining

Once it was all strained (we let it strain for about an hour) this is what we had left: ricotta in the seive, and whey in the bowl.
After straining

This picture is a little misleading. We actually dumped whey out of the bowl three times so it wouldn’t be touching the sieve. We ended up with three jars of whey. I looked online to see what we could do with the whey because I thought it would be a big waste to dump it. One of the things I kept seeing was to use it in stead of milk in biscuit recipes, but we never make biscuits. If anyone reading this has any ideas of what to do with the whey please leave a comment. Also, our sieve is so tiny that we couldn’t pour all of the contents of the pot in one go. If we are going to do this regularly (and we go through a lot of ricotta so we might), we are going to have to get a much bigger sieve.

And the taste? When we buy ricotta from the store I don’t like how it tastes. I would never pick up a spoon and eat it from the container. I like it in food or mixed up as part of a dessert, but not on its own. This stuff we made was great on its own. It tasted much fresher and lighter, and the flavor wasn’t harsh. It was so good!

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No time for a new hobby – wherein I learn to crochet

Posted by Andi on March 20, 2011

Although my free time is already limited enough I have picked up a new hobby.

Crochet.

Given that I already knit, is crochet really a new hobby? I can hear crochet enthusiasts screaming all the way over hear for saying that, but really I kind of think of this as an extension of my knitting. I can use crochet to finish knit pieces. I can make garments that combine knit and crochet. Finally, I would just crochet something instead of knitting it. At least theoretically. I need to get way better at crochet first.

I guess what I mean to say is that I view knit and crochet as two parts of one hobby – fiber arts. Where I manipulate yarn into doing what I want it to do and then wearing it. They are complimentary. Jewelry making is a different hobby. Gardening is a different hobby. Knitting and crochet – I hope these basically become two parts of the same whole in my world.

I took a free crochet class at the local library two weeks ago. It was only one session and we didn’t go into everything, but it was great to see someone demonstrate the stitches in person, and look over my shoulder to tell me what I was doing wrong. I also learned that I was inserting the hook into the wrong part of the chain. No wonder my previous attempts at crochet were complete failures!

When we were just doing stitches I was doing okay, but when it came time to make a new chain and start making a swatch of half double crochet stitches, well, something went horribly awry.

Horrible crochet

Does this look like crochet to you? No. The instructor came over and saw that I was skipping a step on my stitches. I finally got it right on the last couple, but this is just a hot mess. She told me to just cut it off and start over.

Last weekend I finally did that. It’s still a bit wonky, but I think this is way better than my first try.

Somewhat better crochet

I did not have written instructions, so I made this from memory. I couldn’t remember exactly where I was supposed to put the hook in the second row, so it’s a bit off. But the stitches went well, and I definitely see progress. It’s going to take some practice until I can feel as comfortable holding a crochet hook as I do knitting needles.

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In which we try to grow things

Posted by Andi on March 19, 2011

Because our current apartment has much more natural light in the kitchen as well as a porch we decided we wanted to try our hands at growing herbs. Over the past few years we’ve been using many more herbs and spices in our cooking, and started buying fresh herbs more frequently, and decided to start growing our own. We bought a few plants when we first moved into this apartment, and our first herb experiment was pretty much a failure. Of the three or four plants we had only one, our marjoram plant is the only one that is still alive.

Our desire to grow our own herbs has piqued again recently because we’re planning to start a garden with my mom (more on that on a later date). Today we went with my mom to Home Depot to buy seeds for the new garden, and an herb kit caught my eye. My mom wasn’t interested in adding herbs to our garden, so we bought the kit to grow herbs at home.

Herb seeds

It came with five kinds of herbs: chives, parsley, cilantro, oregano, and basil. It also came with the pots, which are apparently biodegradable.

Herb pots

Next we put two of these pellets into the pots. They were sort of like soil but dried out.

Soil pellets

When you add water, the pellets expand and have the consistency of soil.

soil

Next we put the seeds into the pot. I felt tricked when I opened one of the seed packets and found yet another seed packet inside! It was sort of like when you unwrap a gift box and find another gift box inside.

Hey, another packet!

Finally, we put the pots on the little stand that came with the kit and put it in the window.

Ready to grow

We will keep the pots in the kitchen until it gets warmer outside, and then we will put them on the porch. Here’s hoping we get lots of yummy herbs in the near future!

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I have a plan

Posted by Andi on March 14, 2011

I wanted to use the Sock Stash Knitdown 2011 to finally knit up some of the sock yarns I’ve had in my stash for ages and ages, but recent purchases of even newer sock yarn had threatened to derail me from my goal. In order to stay focused I made a list of the sock yarn I would use for my next eight projects in the Knitdown.

1. I have several skeins of Dream In Color sock yarn, but I had one skein of Smooshy in particular that I have had for a real long time. It’s in the Black Parade colorway, which is pretty much a semi-solid black. I love it. And just to prove I’m on track, I’ve already started a project with this: the Ribbed Ribbon Socks by Wendy D. Johnson.

Dream In Color Smooshy - Black Parade

2. I got this skein of Fibranatura Yummy in the holiday grab bag my knitting group did. It’s green!!! I have two or three different patterns in mind, and I will probably use this one for my next sock yarn project.

Fibranatura Yummy

3. I have had two skeins of Berroco Sox for such a long time. I started to knit with both colorways when I was trying to develop my own sock pattern for a context. I failed. I’m not sure which colorway I will use.

Berroco Sox

Berroco Sox

4. Brown Sheep Wildefoote Luxury Sock. This wasn’t the first sock yarn I bought, but it’s amongst the oldest in my stash. I keep forgetting I have it. I will probably make a cabled sock with this.

Brown Sheep Wildfoote

5. Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn. I have used alpaca yarn to make lovely items for my neck. It’s about time I get to put this loveliness on my feet!

Misti Alpaca

6. Online Supersocke 100. Okay, this might actually be older than the Brown Sheep yarn. This colorway is so me, I can’t believe I haven’t made something with this already! Since this is self-striping yarn I think I will just make a plain sock and let the yarn do the work for me.

ONline Supersocke 100

7. Schachenamyr Normatta Regia Line Steps Color. I’ve used this yarn in blue, but those socks are too small. Hopefully these will work out. I like that it’s solid enough to use with a nice stitch pattern, but every once in a while there’s a little flash of another color to make things interesting.

Regia Line Steps Color

8. And last, but certainly not least, Turtle Cove Farm Terrapin Toes. I bought these skeins at Yarn Con a couple of years ago, one for myself and one for Tim. Guess which is which! If I’m feeling generous I will make Tim some socks. If not, I was considering using my skein for some arm warmers.

Turtle Cove Terrapin Toes Sock Yarn

Turtle Cove Terrapin Toes Sock Yarn

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FO: Perseverance

Posted by Andi on March 13, 2011

Perseverance
Pattern: Perseverance by Lauren Weinhold
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Arbol, 1 skein
Needles: US 6
Date started: 22 February 2011
Date completed: 10 March 2011

This is the second of (hopefully) ten projects for the Sock Stash Knitdown 2011. I originally intended to knit socks with this yarn. As a matter of fact, I wound it before my trip to Thailand thinking it would be my second project on the trip, but when I found out I couldn’t bring knitting needles on the plane I left it behind. I chose a sock pattern for it and everything. But look at this gorgeous yarn:

Perseverance

I loved the colors way too much to hide this yarn in my shoes and under pants legs. It had to be worn somewhere where I could see it! So I started looking for shawl patterns.

This pattern was designed by one of my Ravelry friends, and it had been in my queue since I first noticed it. It’s mostly stockinette with some reverse stockinette, half linen stitch, and garter stitch. The design was simple enough that any pattern didn’t get lost in the changing colors of the yarn, but the different stitches showed off the yarn differently. It was just what I was looking for!

Perseverance

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FO: A Very Emil Cowl

Posted by Andi on March 10, 2011

A Very Emil Cowl
Pattern: A Very Braidy Cowl by Maryse Roudie
Yarn: San Juan Alpacas worsted weight yarn, 1 skein (made with Emil’s fleece)
Needles: US 8
Date started: February 1, 2011
Date completed: February 21, 2011

I made this cowl out of alpaca yarn I got at the most recent Yarn Con. I was drawn to it when I saw this super adorable alpaca on the label. His name is Emil. The yarn is not died. Emil is a gorgeous chocolate brown color, and this yarn is so soft!! I wanted to make something where I could easily feel how soft the yarn is, so although I considered making a hat at first I quickly nixed that idea. But a cowl on my neck? Perfect!

A Very Emil Cowl

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Faithfully

Posted by Andi on March 6, 2011

For the past week I have experienced something that hasn’t happened in almost a year and a half — I only have one WIP. Why? Because the blanket that took me a year and a half to finish is finally done!

The blanket was meant to be a wedding gift, but the wedding was over a year ago. With no AC I didn’t work on much in the summer. And while I often enjoyed working on the blanket, when it got frustrating I would put it down for a while because I didn’t think it was appropriate to knit frustrated feelings into a wedding present. Thus, it took a long time for me to finish it.

We had plans to see my friend and her husband last weekend. I only get to see her about once a year, so I had to have it done!! I couldn’t wait another whole year to give it to her. Sure, I could have seen her again, or mailed the blanket to her house, but I really wanted to get it done and give it to them that night. I had quite a bit of the border done already, all I had to do was finish it and sew it on. How long could that take?

I was running low on yarn, so I bought the another ball. I sewed on what I had done of the border, and reached around two sides of the blanket and halfway around the third side. I went to work on the rest of the border, stopping every once in a while to sew what I did onto the blanket so that I had an accurate view of how much more I needed to do. The last few days I knitted constantly, hoping to finish the blanket before I had to leave on Saturday.

Saturday afternoon came, and I was almost done. Right before it was time to leave I sewed the rest of the border I had done onto the blanket, and I was still a few inches short. I thought I needed three more pattern repeats. But it was time to leave! We were taking public transportation to a restaurant near the theater to have dinner before the movie. I figured I could get at least two of the pattern repeats done on the train. Then I would need to sew it up at the restaurant.

Sure enough, I got two pattern repeats done on the train, but then I noticed another problem. I was running out of yarn. I didn’t think I had enough yarn to knit three pattern repeats and sew them onto the blanket. Tim suggested I sew on the two I had done, just to see how far I got. I started sewing, but then we had to get off the train. We sat down in the restaurant, which was really more like a bar, and I pulled out the blanket and started sewing again. Much to my delight I realized that two pattern repeats was enough. I was done! I finished sewing before our food came, and wove in the ends just before we had to leave for the movie. I finished it about 10 minutes before giving it to my friend.

Because I had to give it away right away, I have no pictures of it. However, it turned out just like the picture here.

So, for the past week I’ve been working on the Perseverance shawl. Although I’ve considered cheating on the shawl by starting a sweater or another pair of socks, I’ve decided to savor this one project, and enjoy not feeling guilty by letting another project fall by the wayside. I have decided I’m going to start a sweater next, and I’m not even going to swatch for it until this shawl is finished.

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