Saturday, September 30, 2006


Annette started this line of posting that she got off of Grumperina's blog, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon like everybody else in my SnB group. Although, I will admit I had to look up the word meme and got thoroughly confused for a little while.

10 Knitterly things you didn't know about me - a meme:

1. I really dislike stockinette in the round. Out of 3 or 4 in the round projects, I barely finished one because I would get so bored just knitting. I also have not finished the one garter stitch sweater I started for the same reason.
2. I do like the look and simplicity of simple stockinette sweaters and when I've made them I normally knit them flat and then seam it. For some reason the switching from knit rows to purl rows is very relaxing for me.
3. I probably have more TOADs than UFOs in the various bins of yarn around the house. However, I don't have the heart to rip them out even though I know I won't finish the items.
4. My sisters are truly my best friends and being able to share knitting with them makes our bond that much closer.
5. The first sweater I knit for myself was way too thick and warm to wear in Los Angeles, so my twin sister has it. She wore it instead of a winter coat when she lived in Ithaca, NY.
6. The first sweater my twin sister made is the same color as the first one I made. However hers was too small for her and I have it.
7. Like many people I hate weaving in ends. In fact, my grey cabled vest the ends are still not woven in and I finished it years ago. When I wear it I just make sure no ends are sticking out.
8. I don't like wearing long sleeve cotton sweaters because they just feel heavy. I think I'm a wool/alpaca girl at heart. However, I do have quite a bit of cotton and cotton blends in my stash. I keep on picking up quantities to make short sleeve cardigans but it gets ignored for softer woolier yarns in the stash.
9. I have a ton of sock yarn but only wear my socks when we go camping once or twice a year.
10. I am a terrible perfectionist about my knitting and can not stand to have mistakes. So I do a lot of ripping.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Socks that Rock

As promised from yesterday's post here are some pictures of the Socks that Rock group order that Madge so graciously organized. Here is Madge with the booty:

And here are Marie and Annette with their purchases:

That was a candid shot, but I thought it was cute. There's another picture, but I will not subject Annette and Joan to an unflattering photo! I got a skein of lightweight Seal Rock and here is what it looks like:

There is actually a little more of the bright yellow showing on the other side of the skein. The colors are a little out of my normal comfort zone, but I really liked the colors.

It wasn't the only sock stash enhancement I did this week. When I arrived into work on Tuesday I noticed that the sock yarn had been restocked. I had heard a lot about the new bamboo regia, so I had to pick up 2 balls to try it. I also had an extra skein of koigu from my flower basket shawl and decided to trade it in for another color. I see socks being cast-on soon!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The search for glue.

I teach a felted bag class for my advanced beginning knitting class. In around 150 yards worth of knitting my students learn how to increase (M1), use paired decreases (k2tog & ssk), pick up stitches, work in the round and read an imperfect pattern. They do all this in the first class and have to repeat much of what they learn for homework in the body of the purse for the second class. Even though to an intermediate knitter these are all pretty standard techniques, for a knitter that has only made scarves it is not an easy project. However it is definitely attainable and once they finish it helps to build confidence to try other types of more advanced knitting. When they finish and felt the project, I make a deal with the students, that if they buy the materials, I'll make a specific swarovski beaded button for them. Sometimes finding the perfect closure for a purse can be difficult, so I help give them an option.

Well I was just finishing one of these buttons and I couldn't find my jeweler's glue that I use to attach the button bail to the bead I use to stabilize the button. I searched all the places I normally put my jewelry making stuff. Then I remembered my husband.

A couple years ago the fabric on the door of my car partially fell down. My sweet husband fixes my car and went through 2 pricey spray-on adhesives that were apparently made for automotive problems like mine. Neither worked for more than a couple days. He was ready to retry one of the adhesives when I told him that I was not convinced that a spray on adhesive could possible be strong enough. I handed him my jeweler's glue and asked that he humor me and try it. Worked great. Since then when he's needed a stronger glue for miscellaneous car and household projects I find the glue here:

Right on his workbench, where it obviously belongs! I think I'll need to get him his own tube so I can keep mine ;)

Now that the button was done I could cook a simple dinner for the glue thief. I don't cook a lot of Korean food, but this is a dish we call daddy's one pot chicken dish. It's one of the few dishes my dad cooks, although my mom makes it most of the time. It's comfort food and something I know my husband will enjoy. It's an easy dish of chicken fryer parts, onions, garlic, soy sauce, black pepper and potatoes. Here it is before the potatoes:

Not pretty, but very tasty over short grain sticky white rice. Normally I dislike onions, but the onions make all the liquid in the pot that the chicken braises in and flavors the potatoes. Somehow it just works and I hardly even know that I'm eating onions. If you want the recipe, just let me know!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to post some pictures from today's knitting group. Madge organized a group buy to Blue Moon Fiber Arts for some Socks that Rock yarn and she distributed the yarn. Many happy people and great pictures!

Monday, September 18, 2006


So I know that in my little description it says that I will discuss good food, and I've never even discussed food. If it were not for good food, I think my husband and I would not have lasted the first couple months of dating; aside from our last name, we do not have a lot in common. Fried chicken saved the day many times when we got into arguments, because no matter what, anything deep fried will appease most of my bad moods. Food was so important to us that my older sister wrote our wedding toast to Holly Jolly Christmas (our wedding was right before Christmas) but all the lyrics had to do with food. It ended with something about having a Rolly Polly marriage and be careful of what we eat because we want to recognize you next Christmas. It was really cute and well fitting. One of these days I've meant to dig out the wedding video and write down what she wrote.

I was trying to think last night of what restaurants would be worthy of my first mention on the blog and I could think of three that are all at the intersection of Baldwin Ave. and Duarte Rd in Arcadia. The three are all Asian, but very different in styles.

The first is May Mei, which is a Hong Kong style restaurant. It is not a dirty place, but not pretty or pristine either. The decor is stuck in the 80s and service is not always great if you don't speak Chinese. They don't like to call numbers in English so you have to keep checking, and they will give the good tables away to people who are pushy, not people who necessarily came first. If 2 or 3 parties get called at the same time, it pretty much is the first person to the booth gets it. My husband and I are generally very courteous people, but at that restaurant where we've been burned a number of times, if we were called first we'll insist on the table we want. They've gotten used to us since we eat there often enough. What does bring us back though is the food. My favorite dish there is the pan fried noodles, which they call chow mein. Thin egg noodles that have been probably first boiled then pan fried so they are crunchy. Then a light (no soy) seafood sauce with vegetables and seafood is poured over the top. We usually get the house chow mein which comes with chinese broccoli, bok choy, chicken, shrimp, white fish, scallops, and squid. I'm probably forgetting a couple ingredients. We also like the pork and salted fish hot pot. This is rice in a stoneware container that has large pieces of minced pork, really salty fish (sardines or mackerel) and chinese broccoli that has been placed on top to steam with the rice. Then when it comes to the table, they take the pork and broccoli out on a dish and add soy sauce to the rice with some of the fish and mix it up. The fish in this dish is very strong, so it is definitely an acquired taste. We also like the mongolian beef and kung pao chicken, which is similar but not quite like what you would get at other chinese restaurants. I think the restaurant is known for its salted fried chicken wings, which are also pretty yummy.

The second restaurant is Din Tai Fung, which is in the plaza next to May Mei. May Mei is more off of Duarte, while the plaza for Din Tain Fung has entrances on both Baldwin and Duarte. Whereas we go to May Mei for a good tasty dinner, we normally go to Din Tai Fung for lunch. This place is a Taiwanese dumpling house and gets very crowded quickly. Actually both restaurants can have long lines. Din Tai Fung uses a special process to make juicy dumplings. My favorites are the juicy pork dumplings and the juicy pork and shrimp. The Shio mai are pretty to look at, but the shrimp sitting on top is usually overcooked and dry, they are also too big to eat in one bite. A co-worker has told me her daughter swears by the special soup dumplings only served on weekends, but we have not tried them yet. We also always get the string beans which are stir fried and have the perfect amount of garlic and salt. I like the shanghai rice cakes, but that's only for people that like starchy foods, it reminds me of a Chinese version of Korean dukbohki. Same oval rice cakes as koreans with a chinese flavor and vegetables. My husband has been to the original Din Tai Fung in Taipei and had to brag about it, however he did say that the one out here does come pretty close. They will be expanding soon into a new location around the corner. The one thing I don't like about this place is that they do not put prices on their menu, and if you come later the dumplings can be less juicy and even dry.

The last place I will mention, because this is making me hungry is across Baldwin from Din Tai Fung. It is a sushi place called Maru. Of the 3 Japanese restaurants we tend to go to, this is more expensive but nothing in comparison to prices on the west side and San Fernando valley. I like this place because they stick to traditional and authentic sushi but sometimes with a little bit of a twist, and of course very fresh. It's been a while since we've eaten there, but my favorite dish I think is called albacore pickiri. It's albacore sashimi with some sort of very light japanese lemon sauce, a light soy based ponzu sauce, a thinly sliced jalapeno topped with a garlic chip. We also like the miso marinated black cod that has been broiled. It has a great flaky texture that has a perfect balance of sweet and salty. For a real treat we sometimes split an omakase dinner which is a chef's choice multi-course meal with items not on the normal menu. It can be something like a salad, sashimi, yakitori, grilled fish, a special sushi roll and the savory portion always ends with a fish broth and rice with beans. Then you have your choice of ice cream for dessert. The service is always great and the staff is super friendly. They are animal lovers that feed a small cat family in back and have pictures framed along the front desk that are not to be missed if you love cats.

I recommend all three of these places all the time, and we feel fortunate to live so close to so many good restaurants. I'll be upgrading the phone to a picture phone soon, so hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures and more accurate menu names. For those of you that are local, please feel free to let me know if you'd like more information, I've tried to be brief, but it's so hard with such good food!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

50th Roast

Yesterday afternoon I roasted my 50th batch of coffee in my Fresh Roast+. I don't know if I have the roasting down yet, but I'm starting to feel more confident of my coffee roasting skills. To celebrate, I roasted 2 coffees that I'm hoarding, my Sweet Maria's Harar Lot 19 and Sweet Maria's Costa Rican La Minita. I roasted both to just under second crack. They'll be rested well enough for Saturday's cup. I'm really looking forward to it. My Sidamo this morning was very fruity and it's silly but I love waking up knowing I'm about to have a great cup of coffee.

On Monday, I dyed two more sections of the self striping yarn. I've been keeping the excess dye in the fridge and just adding to what's there for the next stripes. Here's the dyeing in action:

As you can see I've folded up the two yard section onto saran wrap and then used a sponge brush to tap the dye onto the yarn. I presoaked the yarn for about 5-10 minutes in warm water and a surfactent type of detergent, although a mild soap would also work. Then I squeezed out as much water as I could before adding the dye. I learned the hard way that if there is too much water, the water will boil and felt the yarn or roving, so the less water the better. Also, don't leave white spots thinking the dye will migrate before it sets. Where the dye is on the yarn when it goes into the microwave is pretty much where it will set. So be careful to turn the yarn over and make sure you got everything.

So far 5 sections are dyed, just 7 to go.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Winston

My cat officially turned 11 today. I've had him since he was 3 days old and he has lived with every person in my family for at least a week, so he really is a part of my family. I adopted him from a woman that worked at the Filene's near the coffee shop I worked at. She was moving to NY and could only take one of her two cats (male and female). She had already found a home for the female, but since the kittens were born (surprise!) they no longer could go to that home. So I had the luck of adopting the mom and two kittens.

This is a composite picture of the two kittens when they were probably around 2 months old:

I made a verbal commitment to adopt the cats before my roommate or landlord were aware. So I named the grey kitten Sabia, and told my roommate to name the orange kitten, hoping it would reduce the shock of cats suddenly invading the apartment. I always knew that I would keep just one cat and would find a home for the 2 I decided not to keep. For a long while, I assumed that I would keep Sabia because I thought she was so pretty. However, when the time came to find them homes, I realized that the mother and daughter were very attached. I found a great home for both girls, again from someone that worked at Filene's. He would update me on how they were for as long as I worked at the coffee shop, although he did rename Sabia, Dora.

Winston has lived all over Boston, New York and 3 years ago came to join my husband and I in California. He has adapted to living out here really nicely, partly because his dad spoils him. We call him King Winston in the house. We think he likes being the only child.

So last night I gave Winston his first gift. I have a friend in the bay area who gifted him with what was supposed to be a handmade strawberry catnip toy, but it looks more like a radish, so to us, it's a radish. I have rarely seen him play with any other toy since he has received it and decided for his birthday he needed another one. Of course, he went crazy over the toy last night and here he is:

I hope this works!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kool-aid dyeing experiments

On Sunday afternoon I did a little bit of mixing and blending, inspired by this tutorial on blending, I started dyeing the 24 yard long loop I made the other day. I only did 3 sections, and here is what they look like so far:

The photo is a little blurry, but on my monitor it is pretty accurate for the colors. I did a lot of blending and of course wrote very little notes, but I'm pleased so far. Each color represents a 2 yard length of the loop. I'll probably try to dye up 2-3 sections at a time, when I have time. Next color I'm going to try to get is a nice bright lime green next to the turqoise on the left. I think it'll be mostly blues with some greens and maybe yellow. I'm still deciding, and with 12 sections I have a lot of options.

I did get an ok picture of the Flower Basket Shawl. I used about 1 2/3 balls of Koigu on a size 8 needle and added 2 or 3 extra repeats from the original Interweave pattern. The Interweave version definitely has better charts then the newly revised Fiber Trends pattern. But it's nice that the Fiber Trends pattern has many weights of yarns and different sizes. I'm glad I made the shawl, not sure if I'll wear it. For now it'll reside at one of the stores I teach at as a sample.

Of course as I was blocking the shawl, fatty had to supervise and later was found sitting in the middle of the shawl. Shoo-ing him off did not help, neither did my husband laughing.

Monday, September 04, 2006


My blog has been my own diary of sorts, but I'm ready for people to see, so I thought I would add more pictures. Since I share the digital camera with my husband, and it mostly resides in his home office downstairs, I don't use the camera too often. However, my lazy ass is realizing its not really that inconvenient to find it and use it myself. I somehow can move to take a cute picture of fatty but don't take the effort for my knitting.

Here is a picture of part of my disorganized craft center:

It has a total of 3 sections, greatly enhanced by my husband's great score off craigslist, that gave me more shelves, the cabinets on the bottom left and the drawers on the bottom right. I did have all my books organized by type, but after we took care of 2 fish tanks and kept them here, I never put my books back in order. Another item on my to do list.

With it being Labor Day weekend, I thought I would do something fun for myself since I blocked the Flower Basket Shawl (pictures were over exposed) and finished the awful repair job. I started winding a 24 yard loop to make my own self-striping yarn. I have a loom that isn't getting used because if I unfold it, we would have very little floor space in our bedroom. However, I thought I would use my warping board for this experiment. Here is the beginnings of the winding process:

I had to restart a couple times. It's been so long that I forgot how to use the board. Typically when you warp you want to make a cross so that the threads stay in order. I was trying not to do this because I wanted one continuous loop. Unfortunately, I made a cross even though I checked at one point, but I was able to push the cross out. I forgot that keeping an even tension throughout the winding process helps immensely and would just let go. If you see in the picture, the end is wrapped around the peg a couple times so I can maintain tension.

Here is the finished photo:

I ended up tying figure 8 ties every 2 yards and may dye it tomorrow if I have time. Not sure if I'll use Wilton's cake dyes or Kool-aid. I'd love to use real dyes, but don't have the space to have pots and utensils dedicated just for that. Also, I so seldom dye that it doesn't seem worth the investment. I know a lot of people say kool-aid and food coloring is light fast/wash fast, but I'm not convinced. Well, I guess we'll see in a couple years.

This morning I brewed the FC+ Harar, and my husband actually liked the C+ we had yesterday better. That completely surprised me. The C+ was roasted 2 minutes less than the FC+, I might try a roast right in between the 2, it might be optimum. Then again, neither roast was really rested enough.

We went to Coffee Klatch tonight just to hang out, and I was surprisingly a little disappointed with my latte. I'm not a big espresso drinker, but I do like my latte's strong. Rather than asking for an extra shot, I asked that they not add too much milk. The woman at the register told me then I should order a cappucino, but I told her I didn't like a lot of foam, to which she looked completely confused. She then asked, "well then the cup won't be full", uhm, yes, that is ok, that is what I'm asking for. Even though the cup was only about 2/3 full with the right amount of foam, I couldn't really taste the espresso. A little disappointed, but I didn't feel like being high maintenance and let it go. I think I'll just get an Americano next time with the extra shot.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

And I tell my students to count!

I always remind my students to count every once in a while when they are working on a project. You never know when you might have accidentally lost or added a stitch, especially when working with a more complicated pattern.

Here I was working on the Artyarns zigzag modular scarf, and I only have 33 stitches. I should have 34. Somewhere I probably didn't increase and I have no idea where. I'm using such slinky yarn too that ripping has to be done slowly and carefully. This will be a store sample so I want it to be perfect, plus the sections are now 2 rows off per section I goofed on. I was about to start the last repeat and the ending triangle too. I put it aside in disgust not wanting to know how much I'll have to rip out. The sad part is that I was thinking this was such an easy/boring project and was just waiting to start something new. I'm kicking myself for being so complacent, but I'll fix it and finish it, hopefully soon.

On the coffee side, I roasted two batches of Ethiopian Harar Horse, one at City+ and the other at Full City+. Had the City+ this morning, and although better than the Guatemalan at C+, I have a feeling I like my rut of just going into second crack. I'm glad I'm experimenting though because I am seeing different characteristics of the coffee. I have major coffee lust for the Sweet Maria's offerings right now, but it'll have to wait, even with a gift certificate waiting to be spent.