Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pyroclastic, Revisited

I've been meaning to publish the pattern for Pyroclastic with the charts for the arch shaping since the copyright reverted back to me last year.  Well, I finally got around to it. The pattern is available in my Ravelry shop. 

I've clarified the reason for the marker placement.  If you have thought about knitting Pryoclastic but were confused by the written directions, this version should eliminate all doubts about what exactly is going on with the arch shaping.  I also added some other yarn suggestions. 

The sock in the photo is knit in Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock Solid Pond Blue, which is now available in 100 gram skeins.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sweater from stash yarn

At the end of last year, I was sitting in my coffee place freezing.  Just like a cartoon thought bubble, a thought popped into my head:  I need a sweater.  Now, it's not as if I don't have any sweaters.  Of course, I do--I'm a knitter after all! But I needed a new sweater.  Luckily, I also have stash.  Some really old stash.  And since I'd just been informed that I would be out of work at the end of January, I decided that some stash diving was in order.

Well, I pulled out a lovely dark blue DK weight yarn called Merino Style from Knitpicks that I'd purchased eons ago.  Since I didn't have a pattern in mind and didn't want to search through all the pattern books and magazines I own, I decided to wing it with a top-down, raglan sleeve that I would design on the needles.  I knew that I wanted something simple style-wise; yet not plain Jane and it would have to look good with jeans as well as dress pants or a skirt.  I also decided that I would knit the sleeves before finishing the body.  I think as this as akin to knitting socks toe-up.  The body will be as long or short as the amount of yarn I have left after the sleeves. 

The first sleeve took me forever.  At first I was thinking I wanted a wide sleeve so I knit without decreases.  Well, it looked just awful, really frumpy.  I ripped back and decreased to taper the sleeve.  I still didn't like it.  Then I sat down with a few stitch dictionaries and found a pattern I liked.  So I ripped back again and this time figured out how often I needed to decrease in order to get down to a stitch count that would work with the pattern and wasn't too loose or tight.  The photo on the left shows the detail of the pattern on the sleeve.  I've got about 2-inches to go on the body before I start the lace pattern on the body.

It has been fun to mix up sock knitting and designing with knitting a sweater.  Especially since winter temperatures have arrived in the Bay Area.  I figure in less than a week I'll have the sweater I needed back in December.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

 I've been rediscovering the joy of baking bread.  A few weeks ago I started making focaccia, which was eaten very quickly.  Then the other day I was flipping through the recent issue of Cook's Illustrated and read an article on perfecting cinnamon bread.  I think that Cook's Illustrated has some very interesting ideas but find their processes fussy.  Their premise was that one can make a cinnamon bread at home that doesn't have the big gaping holes that occur where the cinnamon filling meets the bread dough.  I wondered if one could achieve a similar effect using a pullman loaf pan.  So I tried it.  I made a challah dough using the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, which I tweaked just a bit by using regular yeast instead of the instant yeast called for and allowed for longer rising times.

Here is the dough before it's first rise. Challah is a very forgiving dough.  Plus it is super simple to make in a stand mixer.  It has a lovely pale yellow color due to the eggs and egg yolks in the dough, which according to Peter Reinhart was probably a way to use up excess eggs before the Sabbath made it impossible to harvest new eggs. It also has a very small amount of oil in it; I used a lovely pale green grapeseed oil.  I let it rise twice in the bowl.
Then I patted it into something that resembles a rectangle and let it rest under a towel for about 10 minutes.  Then I rolled it out into an even larger rectangle, really it was more like a parallelogram, which really didn't matter much to me since I was going to roll it up jelly roll style.  Then I brushed it with a small amount of melted butter, spread cinnamon sugar over the surface, rolled it up, tucked under the ends and put it in a lightly oiled pullman loaf pan.

A pullman loaf pan has a lid and makes a loaf with a flat, rather than rounded, top.  It also doesn't allow much of a crust to develop so that it is easy to make crustless finger  sandwiches with bread baked in one.  But, my quest was for a cinnamon swirl bread that didn't have a bunch of giant holes in it.

I put the cover on most of the way--I left it open about 1/2-inch and let it rise until it was about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan.  I closed the lid the rest of the way and put it in a 350F oven to bake for about 50 minutes.

 Here is the loaf as it came out of the pan.  The filling leaked just a bit but not so much that the pan had gooey filling all over it.  So I considered that a success.  Of course, the real telling was when I cut into the loaf.  There were some holes where the filling and dough did not stick together.  But wasn't not so bad that the slices didn't hold together.  I put two slices in the toaster this morning, which maintained their shape.  Again, I think this is a success.

Oh, and the toast was very lovely.  This is an experiment worth repeating.

Monday, February 13, 2012

President's Day Weekend Sale!

Starting Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 20 the following patterns in my Ravelry shop are 20% off:  Newland, Dervish, Adrienne, Kristine, Slipstream, Ella's Tea Socks, Caitlin's Lace Anklet, and Oliver.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

New sock pattern

It has been a long time since I published a knitting pattern so this feels really great.

The new pattern is called Indigo Waves and is available for purchase on Ravelry. I used Siren 2 sock yarn from Pigeonroof Studios.  The color way is Indigo Ink.  It is a beautiful semi-solid showing dark blues at their best.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve for 2012 including an improved written pattern with charts for Pyroclastic.  Look for it soon in my Ravelry shop.