Auntie Ann Knits

Thursday, August 31, 2006

True Love & Homegrown Tomatoes

Homegrown Tomatoes, by Guy Clark

Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon & lettuce & homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin' out in the garden
Get you a ripe one don't get a hard one
Plant `em in the spring eat `em in the summer
All winter without `em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' & diggin'
Everytime I go out & pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes

You can go out to eat & that's for sure
But it's nothin' a homegrown tomato won't cure
Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew
You can make your very own tomato juice
Eat `em with eggs, eat `em with gravy
Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy
Put `em on the side, put `em in the middle
Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle

If I's to change this life I lead
I'd be Johnny Tomato Seed
`Cause I know what this country needs
Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see
When I die don't bury me
In a box in a cemetary
Out in the garden would be much better
I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes

Home-grown tomatoes
I know these poor plants don't look like much, but boy have we had plenty of great tomatoes for the last couple of months. Now they may be starting to slow down a bit, but they're still coming in.

I think I heard that song only once, but the chorus still runs through my head whenever I go out tomato pickin'.

DH fenced the backyard to keep the dog in (no luck there) and the deer out (so far, so good), and now we can have homegrown tomatoes. Due to the lack of much of any topsoil (rocks don't count) and the generally desert-like conditions of our patio (could it have anything to do with my failure to water?), I jumped at this when I saw it: Tomato Success Kit from I put in one cherry tomato plant and one "Early Girl" tomato plant from the local nursery, and -- yum! The secret is the water reservoir in the bottom of the planter, which wicks up into the soil as needed.

Favorite way to serve them: diced with a few chopped fresh basil leaves, smidge of olive oil, salt & pepper, scoop onto crackers or sliced baguette. If we're feeling a bit decadent, we use Alouette cheese spread to hold 'em on the bread.

And now for the knitting content: I have finished four out of eleven (or so) Xmas projects. I might actually make it. All yarn and other materials are in (except -- still waiting for some additional 40" Addis that I ordered now that I'm a Magic Loop convert). Pix soon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mom's knitting

I taught my Mom to knit not too long ago. She saw me and DD doing it and thought it looked like fun. Previously, she has done cross-stitching and some sketching, hand-sewn hems and such, but no other crafting that I know of.

Here is her second piece of knitting ever:
Mom's knitting
This is much better than the first one, which we frogged to start over.

It's getting much better in the last couple of inches. Before that there are a bunch of unintentional short rows (on each side, so they actually kind of even out), and I don't quite know how she ends up with those orphan stitches at the margins, hanging out there on their lonesome, all forlorn. Her habit of putting it down before she's reached the end of the row must have something to do with it. She's very pleased that this has only increased by one stitch since the cast-on (NOT like last time, when it just grew and grew and grew), although those poor orphan stitches obviously have something to do with that.

What to encourage her to make when this is done? We can only knit this poor yarn so many times (it is already suffering). It's a nice coloring and actually pretty nice for acrylic yarn (at least in my experience), but it's starting to get more and more splitty.

What's a good project for a very new knitter who has barely grasped the knit stitch (let alone the purl stitch)? A garter stitch scarf, I suppose, I hate to get into increases and decreases. Perhaps garter stitch squares for a blanket. Hmmm.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Klein bottle hat in 4-D

I didn't realize when I snapped this photo of my uncle wearing his new Klein bottle hat (aka "knitted representation of a Klein bottle") that a bit of the 4th dimension snuck in:
UMatt 1

He was very pleased, but I had the feeling that if I had not made him a Klein bottle hat, he would have been disappointed. He had only mentioned to me once that some of his colleagues had them! Apparently they are de rigeur in academic math circles. Clearly, I have set the bar way too high.

Sewn Cell Phone Cozy

I saw Angela's felted cell phone case, and then this sewn weensy camera purse by Rachael, and Rachael's post linked to this tutorial for a sewn camera cozy. DD had indicated an interest in having a cell phone case, and so I put this together:

Cell phone cozy 1

I think it came out rather sweet, if I do say so myself, thanks to the experience of those who had gone before. Everything that I used, we had around the house. It's denim (saved legs of jeans I cut off into shorts) lined with red felt Cell phone cozy 3
(leftover craft felt -- I hope it holds up) and with red satin (from a friend's quilting, she gave M. a bunch of squares to experiment with sewing), with a button left over from a "learn to knit" kit from KlutzCell phone cozy 2
and ribbon that came on a tiny bag of jelly beans given by our neighborhood realtor. The buttoned strap should let her attach the cozy to her belt loop or to the strap of her backpack.

I'm obviously not the most skilled at sewing, am allergic to ironing, and several of the pieces I had to cut out several times as I was winging it a bit too much and don't believe in pinning over-much (which I generally later regret), but I still think it's very cute, myself. Let's hope DD agrees when she gets home from the grandparents' house tomorrow.

Red Scarf Project

There's a new blog site this year just for the Red Scarf Project. This charity has caught my interest ever since I first read about it, and I'd like to help spread the word!

The idea is to knit or crochet and donate a red scarf, which will be distributed on Valentine's Day 2007 to kids who have aged out of the foster care system and are in college. When I try to imagine a kid like that, without their own family and perhaps with little or no support from their former foster family or the foster care system, and, despite all that, trying to make their way through college, my heart really goes out to them.

Perhaps, to that student, a scarf would be very tangible evidence that someone was thinking about you and wishing you the best. It seems to me that that might help.

So, grab a button and play along! There are prizes, too. Go here for more buttons (no hotlinking please -- ask me or another blogger if you need instructions) and to find more info. Me, I have a reversible cable scarf in mind. Must. Buy. Yarn.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WIC pic of Eweforia baby hats on Yarn Harlot's blog

I'm being really lame and copying a post I put on Eweforia's blog in lieu of a new post of my own, but this is really cool.

I was in a rush and forgot to take pix of our donated hats that we sent to WIC at the urging of the Yarn Harlot, but I spy a few of them on her blog! Check it out, a few of our hats are visible in the lower left corner of the first hats-on-a-table pic here.

I see Carin's lavender hat, Patty's pink hat, and in the very corner my apple hat (it has a dark green stem instead of brown like most of the others).

Way to go, stitchers!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Message in a Klein Bottle

Imagine my surprise to see this pattern for a Klein bottle hat in the summer issue of Knitty, since I had been working on my very own Klein bottle, sans pattern, on and off since spring.

What is a Klein bottle hat, you may very well ask. I refer you to this excellent website for a description of the 4-D topological shape known as Klein bottle. A Klein bottle hat is a mere 3-D knitted representation of a Klein bottle. From that same site you may even purchase your very own hand-knitted Klein bottle hat. That site is full of topological humor related to Klein bottles, too, if that amuses you (it amuses me, but obviously I come from a long line of geeks). Also a cut-away cross-section drawing of a Klein bottle hat (this is funny to me, too).

Back in May, I posted a progress pic of the hat I was working on for my math professor uncle, and now it is done:
Klein Bottle Hat 1

My model there is a cantaloupe. (I sure hope this doesn't end up on the new You Knit What?!.)

Here I've folded the opening back a little -- I chose the outer yarn because it's a good match to my uncle's Moebius scarf (or a "knitted representation of a Moebius band", as he put it), and the inner yarn because it was less itchy and wouldn't clash:
Klein Bottle Hat 3

And here's where they're grafted together, although normally this would be tucked away inside (except a Klein bottle has no inside):
Klein Bottle Hat 4

And a close-up of the grafting:
Klein Bottle Hat 5

The grafting has been "enhanced" by duplicate stitching the ends to make it appear more continuous, stitch-wise, but since there were 2 sets of 1x1 ribbing stitches knit in opposite directions meeting, a good clean graft was not really possible, the way it would be if it were stockinette. But hardly anyone will look at this, normally it shouldn't show.

I began at the lower edge with a provisional cast-on of 120 stitches in DK weight yarn on #6 needles in 2x2 ribbing. This is unlike the Knitty pattern, which begins at the point where I grafted mine. I knit as you would any other hat, decreasing to 18 1x1 ribbed stitches [ETA -- near the top, knit back a forth for a few rows to form the slit, needed since we don't live in 4-D], then knitting the narrow tube. When the darker gray part was done, I picked up the stitches at the lower edge with #4 needles and knit as any other hat, decreasing to 18 1x1 ribbed stitches, and then grafted.

Since there are 2 layers over the ears, this will be a very warm hat, appropriate for my uncle who lives in Vermont and Boston.

But mainly this should give him some bragging rights with the other math professors, who reacted to his Moebius scarf by showing off their Klein bottle hats. This is a gift for his 85th birthday party this coming weekend. Maybe I'd better block it before we eat that cantaloupe.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Summertime, and the living is easy

I was pondering ease in Sock the First lately, and Deepa (one of my many -- well, 2 -- loyal readers) suggested this helpful podcast on ease: AutumnBreeze podcast 20.

Basically, according to my notes of the podcast, you want 10% negative ease for a sock or any garment you want "very snug" (a camisole or snug tank, perhaps), 5% negative ease for a tight but not form-fitting tee, 5% positive ease for a "fitted" garment, and 15% ease for something loose and flowing, such as a loose cardigan.

Look at the Picovoli pattern by Grumperina, a stickler for fit. It says in the notes: "This pattern is for a close-fitting garment – about 2 inches smaller around the bust than the wearer’s actual bust measurement. The negative ease produces a streamlined silhouette while compensating for cotton’s tendency to stretch during wear." That is generally not my style, but very helpful information nonetheless.

Also see this very informative post by Bonne Marie Burns on fit and ease. The charts she refers to don't use percentages, they use inches of ease -- the percentage ala Autumn Breeze seems to me to make a little more sense, it would depend on the size of the garment how much ease to add, yes?

[ETA: Here's another very helpful article on ease from Fuzzy Galore, talking about this very issue, percentage vs. inches of ease.]

I think that I read about knitting too much and knit too little, but I find this interesting and hopefully when I make my Rogue (that's still a long-term goal for me) it will fit me!

Meantime, we drove DD to music camp yesterday, and the view of the lake is fabulous:
Lake view 1

Given the hours of driving, I made some progress on Sock the Second:
Sock the 2nd
Darn the crappy light today, but here it is.

I used the Magic cast-on, which worked great, although I had to do it several times at Eweforia Friday night (too distracted by chatting to pay enough attention to the instructions), and then I had to re-do the whole darn thing in the car (but without much need at all of the instructions this time) because the increases were pretty random and sloppy. They're better now, although I'm not completely happy with them. Happy enough, though. I'm also doing Meg's jogless jog on the self-striping stripes when I can remember, which is clearly not consistent. Sock the First and Sock the Second are not going to be perfect matches because I am using them to try out different techniques. Sock the First has the cast-on from the free KnitPicks pattern for this yarn, and a double-wrapped short-row heel [ETA, this is from Wendy's generic toe-up sock pattern]. I want to try this YO short-row heel on Sock the Second. I'm not sure how visible all these differences will be, and I did make sure that the striping is starting in a similar place in the color sequence.

Check out the pix of Friday's Eweforia fun in the Eweforia blog!