Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm so lame

I was heading to bed last night and suddenly I realized just how lame I was. So I apologize. I'm giving away a reject, that's really crappy.

So to sweeten the deal and make me feel better that I am not being so lame, I would like to add 2 balls of sock yarn to the little sock. You have your choice of 3 stash regia sock yarns:

The regia stretch on the right has been swatched a little bit, but the other two sets are untouched. They've been stored in a ziplock bags and have been kept preserved in a rubbermaid bin deep inside my closet and have a slight hint of lavendar on them.

So hopefully this will get me out of the feeling so stupid!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Miniature Socks

When I knit, I normally knit compulsively. Any sweater that gets finished is done within a month, anything that does not is languishing in various rubbermaid bins. Last week I received 6 sock blocker keychains from Felt Up Designs.

I have yarn bins in the garage and my closet, and after going through at least 4 or 5 of the bins, I finally found my sock stash. In the 2+ years we've lived in this townhome, I have not gone through my stash. It was a little scary. Anyway, the sock stash was much more substantial than I thought and I could not remember when I purchased some of this yarn! But I found many great yarns to use for the keychains. From Saturday night to Tuesday I made 7 miniature socks, here are 6 of them:

I don't think I've been this compulsive for a long time, and I rarely make the same thing twice unless I have to as a sample. It really surprised me that I enjoyed making these so much, and my fingers are itching to make more. But I ran out of blockers. The pattern included with the blocker was pretty good, however I had to change my needle size a couple times to get one that fit the blocker like the picture and I substituted ssk's for k2tog tbl. There was no gauge so I set my own. With size 2 needles, after the first 16 rows the piece should measure 1/2" wide and about 1 1/2" long. Some were exactly 1 1/2", a couple were approx. 1 row shy of 1 1/2".

I was originally going to make one for my secret pal, but after further looking through her blog, I realized she already had one :( They all will have good appreciative homes and I'll think of something else for her.

The lonely seventh sock is from some striped regia and looks like this:

Compared to the others, I did not find it very pretty, so it was not blocker worthy in my eyes. I showed my SnB group and some people did like it, so if anybody would like this sock, please let me know ( basicknits [at] yahoo [dot] com ) and if I have more than one person that wants it, I'll draw a name next Friday, October 27th.

On the coffee side of things, I'm really excited because I'm building a larger capacity roaster. I'm loosely using the tutorial from here. My Fresh Roast has less than a 2 ounce capacity, this new roaster will be able to roast 1 1/2lbs. We ate dimsum last week in Rowland Heights, and Sunpentown is only 5 miles away so we were able to pick up the oven (top only) from their offices. I'm going to use a different spacer and I modified the all metal shaft a little. I have all the pieces, I just need my husband's help enlarging the holes in some washers, disconnect the heating element and it'll be ready for a test run. Hopefully Sunday I'll be able to give it a try.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thank you Secret Pal!!

The mail yesterday brought two packages related to secret pal :) One is for my secret pal, and the other was from my secret pal! I could hardly believe it when I saw "SP9 Pal" in the return address!

Here is what I received:

The card said, "Just a small taste of treats to come". The Verbena scent is really subtle and very pretty. The drink cozy will be great for work since I take so long to finish my sodas and now I'm wondering if I should make halloween sugar cookies. Here I'm still coming up with a game plan to spoil my own secret pal and I already receive a gift. :) So thank you Secret Pal, I really appreciate the gift and you definitely put a smile on my face when I received it yesterday!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Nieces and Nephews

WARNING: If you don't like cats, don't read this post.

Although my husband has two nephews, on my side of the family we have cat nieces and nephews. Winston was the first cat to enter into my family and as stated earlier, he has lived with everyone in the family, which is saying something since I have 2 sisters, a brother and my parents. About a year after I adopted Winston, my twin sister adopted Tabitha:
She is a petite cat that was a stray on the streets of Philadelphia. She was brought into the clinic my sister was volunteering at and she fell in love with her. She's a stereotypical cat that does what she wants but she does like people to talk to her. Tabitha also likes to talk, A LOT, we tease her that she's all eyes no brain. My older brother now has her and she has a happy life in the SF bay area.

A couple months after my sister adopted Tabitha, two kittens were brought into the same clinic. They were only a day or two old and were found in a plastic bag in a drainage ditch or sewer. Neither kitten were expected to survive, but they both did with a lot of human mom loving and not much sleep. My sister raised a black tuxedo cat named Malcolm:
He looks all sweet in the picture but he is a monster. He's over 15 pounds and is constantly cranky. His body is very big but his head, whiskers and paws are small. I think that my sister overfed him, although he's pretty much all muscle. As Malcolm grew bigger, he and Tabitha increasingly did not get along, which is why she found a new home. Malcolm doesn't realize that he is a cat and does not like when my sister has a man in her life.

The calico cat behind Malcolm was named Chai, but after her food obsessions were found out she was renamed Tummy. When she isn't begging for food, she likes to hunt and has unfortunately caught many small animals. My twin sister also rescued her from a clinic she worked at for my older sister.
This is Tummy in a dog sweater my twin sister knit for a friend's dog. She needed a model, and Tummy was the right size. Poor tummy.

And last is Rocco. He was rescued by my twin sister as well. For a little while he lived with a friend and was named Marley. However he now lives with Malcolm and they have their rough patches but mostly get along. This picture of Rocco is pretty much the expression he gives most of the time.
We also call him monkey, because he will wrap his front arms around your neck if you lift him up. It took a while for him to trust humans and was a little aggressive, but he's now a very sweet affectionate cat.

I will blame my twin sister for us becoming a crazy cat family. She falls in love with strays and then distributes them among friends and family. We tease her that she only chooses lemons because they all have issues, only Winston is normal. Or that's what I like to think!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Secret Pal 9 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I like to knit anything wooly, especially alpaca. I tend to use aran weight or lighter yarns just because they are easier on my hands and I like the feel of the fabric. I don't like yarns with a lot of acrylic or microfiber, and anything that catches on semi-dry skin irritates me.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
My circulars are in a BassPro soft tackle binder with most of my accessories in that binder or in a small pencil case. I don't own many straight needles and what I have are mostly contained in a toolbox.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I'm a self taught knitter via books with some internet help. I learned in college but became a more serious knitter about 7 years ago after I got married. I would consider myself a more advanced knitter since I teach and frequently draft patterns for my customers. However, I do acknowledge there is always something new I can learn.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I like light floral clean scents. Any scent that comes in a green bottle normally falls into that category. I generally don't like anything that smells like food, because I don't like to smell what I can't eat ;) However, citrus smells are on the ok list. Anything too strongly scented gives me a migraine.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I like salty foods better, but I am addicted to Loaker chocolate wafer cookies. I also like most gummy candies and dark chocolate. I tend to like tart or citrus flavors over sweet berry like flavors. I just don't like things that are overly sweet.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I bead when I don't feel like knitting. I have a spinning wheel that is neglected and a loom that is even more neglected. I also enjoy cooking and baking.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I have a pretty eclectic taste in music from indigo girls to beethoven. Most of my CDs are very old. My friend made me a mix lately with Ben Folds, Travis, Jack Johnson, etc, and I really like it.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
Blues, greens, reds, and pinks are always safe. Orange, purple, and yellow are not so safe but like in smaller doses. Being Asian, I like the color yellow, just can't wear it, although when I was little my mom put me in a lot yellow. And she wonders why I looked cranky.. I look jaundiced!

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Happily married for almost 8 years. We have one very spoiled and very loved fur cat child and many cat nieces and nephews.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves, but not that much, it really is not necessary out here. Don't wear any of the others either, it's just too warm for hats and mittens, and although I made ponchos, I didn't wear any of them.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
If I had more time to knit for myself it would be sweaters. But I do like to knit smaller warmer items for my sisters and as gifts. Although we live in Southern California, I was born and raised outside of NYC and I have a lot of family out there. I make a fair number of purses but don't really use them.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Beaded purse and a double knit coaster, both as samples. I want to start an alpaca Michael Kors sweater from an older Vogue knitting magazine, or the Herbslied pullover from a Japanese knitting book. One of those will probably be my next major project for myself. Darn, should finish the ribby cardigan. ooops.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I use mostly metal circular needles. Some bamboo and plastic are ok as long as they are fairly slick, although I own all types because it can change with the yarn or stitch pattern. For double points I like Brittany's the best.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
yes to both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
More like a TOAD at this point. About 7 years old, started soon after I really took back knitting again. Top down striped raglan sweater.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and oyster/sausage stuffing. Oh and my mom's tacos for lunch. Yum!

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Other than yarn, probably beads and coffee pots ;) I also have a weakness for things with an orange cat on them.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting, although I need to renew soon. I always look at new handpainted yarns, but haven't ordered any other than the socks that rock yarn. I just feel like I'm on yarn overload and don't have time to knit my own stuff these days.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'm always looking for new little tricks to make better finishes on items, whether it's a cast-on or a selvedge edge trick.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I knit socks every now and then, but don't wear them that often. Although I think I finally found a pair of shoes that I can wear my socks in. I wear a size 6 shoe.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Moka Pot

I love finding something I've wanted but don't need at a good price. Finding such a bargain is the perfect excuse to buy the unnecesary object. Yesterday I stopped by the local Tuesday Morning and found this:

It is a stainless steel Moka Pot, aka a stovetop espresso maker. Most moka pots that you find in Target and local coffee houses are aluminum, which can give a metallic taste to the coffee. The stainless steel ones are a little tougher to find and can be pretty pricey, especially for a Bialetti which this is not. I have always been intrigued by these since you place the cold water on the bottom, the grinds in the middle, and the coffee magically steams itself up to the top through the grinds.

I was really excited when my husband got home from the gym and he asked why we needed another type of coffee maker. To which I answered, "she who has the most ways to brew coffee wins." He really didn't like that answer. Hidden in various cupboards and in the garage are, one 8-cup bodum chambord french press, one 8-cup lexan french press (for camping), three 3-cup french presses (daily use and tea), an aeropress (that I'm still trying to like), a Capresso 10 cup electric coffee maker, a small stainless ibrik, a medium stainless ibrik, 3-4 vietnamese coffee contraptions and an old krups pump espresso machine that I purchased when I worked at a coffee shop. So, as you can see, I really needed the moka pot. Although my husband is responsible for the ibriks and the vietnamese coffee drip through makers, just had to add that. I could say that this will be my last type of coffee brewer, but I know that I would be lying.

I made a sample pot last night using purchased (?!) beans. It actually made a pretty nice strong but mellow brew that I slightly watered down to make us hazelnut americanos. I would not add hazelnut syrup to my own roasted beans, but I don't consider the beans I purchased quality.

I forsee a lot more decaf americano's in our future as an after dinner treat. Turkish coffee after dinner is nice, but I think this will be a little more satisfying, and cleaner on the palate.

And just because I had the camera out, a picture of Winston:

How can you not love a face like that??