3.28.2008

Perfect Travel Knitting?

Recently I have joined the Zimmermania by becoming enthralled with Elizabeth Zimmerman's ingenuity in design. Her style of writing appeals to me and whatever pattern I am reading about captivates me and makes me want to knit it right away.

One such pattern is the PI SHAWL which EZ deems is 'perfect travel knitting.' While reading about it in The Knitter's Almanac, this proclamation caught my attention because, as many of you know, I will be leaving on a Mediterranean cruise in a couple weeks. I'll be gone for 17 days. And, instead of contemplating my wardrobe I've been contemplating what knitting to bring for, naturally, I never go anywhere without it!


EZ says that a shawl is perfect for traveling because it takes up little space. It can be knit on a circular needle which is also perfect because one of my greatest traveling fears is loosing a needle and not being able to knit. And since the shawl is knit on circular needles it can be tossed here and there with no dread of accidently pulling out a needle as you pick it up.

Now there is something you must know. I have NEVER knit a shawl. I've never enjoyed intricate lace patterns with all those yarn-overs. So to me a shawl seems like it would be a nightmare waiting to happen on a trip. However, after reading great reviews on this pattern, the concensus is that it is an easy, mindless knit. I think even I can manage this!

I decided that this would be an ideal project to take on the cruise. The knitting will be mindless because this will be a circular shawl with only six shaping rows in the whole shawl! That means that there is quite a bit of mindless knitting inbetween those shaping rows.....endless rounds....no thinking.

I set out to choose the best wool in a color that I love since there will be much mindless knitting involved. Ravelry is a fantastic place to see patterns knit up in different colors and yarns. BTW, there are two EZ groups on Ravelry. I spotted JARED'S PI SHAWL and immediately knew I would also be using the Un-spun Icelandic Wool from Schoolhouse Press. It took me a few weeks to decide upon the color.

The package arrived today. Do you see Meg Swansen's name on the label? Proof positive that knitting talent can be genetic.
One of my favorite colors, Eggplant. This wool comes from hardy Icelandic sheeps. It is put up into 'wheels' that look more like cow patties than skeins of yarn. When I saw them on Ravelry they looked small but here they sit in a pie plate to show you how large they really are.

Someone needs to tell me that I CANNOT start my PI Shawl yet! Hide my needles!
I'm very curious to see how many of you have knit this lovely garment. If you have, what length circular needle did you use? Did you use wood or metal needles?

3.27.2008

F is for French Press


My favorite coffee is made with a FRENCH PRESS. It takes a little longer to make coffee this way and there is a bit of mess to clean up afterwards but, in my opinion, the effort is worth it. If you have seen these coffee gadgets and have always wondered how they work I am about to give you a brief tutorial which is bound to make you tea drinkers run and grab your favorite tea bag shaking your head in dismay.


Each French Press comes equipped with a plunger-filter unit inside it. The plunger is removed and the French Press is warmed with water as you grind dark roasted oily beans to a coarse grind. Finely ground coffee will clog the filter.

The coffee is then placed in the bottom of the French Press and the warming water is discarded.. Hot water, not boiling, is added to the pot leaving a minimum of one inch at the top. The coffee and water is stirred gently before placing the plunger unit back on top of the pot.

The lid spout opening is closed and the coffee is allowed to brew for at least four minutes. Do NOT press down at this point.

The pot handle is held firmly with the spout turned away from you. Using the weight of your hand, slight pressure is applie on top of the knob and the plunger is lowered straight down into the pot. Lowering the plunger slowly with minimal pressure produces the best results. Do not use excessive force, which can cause scalding liquid to shoot out of the pot or cause the pot to fall over spilling coffee all over the place!

The lid is turned to the strainer position and the coffee is poured. Yummy! French Press coffee lacks the 'burned' taste that you so often get when using a traditional coffee maker.


The downside, as I mentioned earlier, is that you do have coffee grounds to deal with in the pot. They have to be scooped out with a spoon and discarded. BTW, does anyone know if you can put coffee grounds down a septic system?

So, this is the French way to make coffee. Or, at least one French way. When I was in college one of my roomates was a Cajun girl from the deep Cajun country of southern Louisiana. Cajuns, as you most likely have heard, are descendents from the French Arcadians and are steeped in French tradition and language. My roomate made coffee in a similar way without the nifty French press filter that we have now. She used a plain old strainer. This, of course, was back in the days when folks used a percolator to make coffee, shortly before Mr. Coffee came along. And, the coffee we used was chicory coffee which had a unique flavor of its own.

This is my "F" entry for the ABC Along. And, if you are wondering what happened to my "D" and "E" entries I now confess I spaced them out and forgot to post them. "Forgetfulness" would have been another "F" entry I could have made. This attribute is something those of us who grew up in the percolator generation can identify with these days :-)

3.26.2008

Mindless Knitting

I am a firm believer in having mindless knitting on hand for those times when I just don't feel like concentrating on a pattern. The brain can drift of into a state of relaxation and enjoy the rhythmic clicking of the sticks and all is bliss.


The Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf is a perfect example of mindless knitting. There is only one row to memorize, over and over again. The pattern is reversible and looks great on either side. And, what makes it even more sublime is knitting it with Malabrigo! It will be difficult for me to want a scarf knit with anything else from here on out. This yarn is simply heavenly.
Ahhhhhh........relaxation......

3.25.2008

Back to Blogger

I've decided to switch back to Blogger. Wordpress just did not have the versatality to play with the layout like Blogger does. It appears Blogger has made some improvements this last year.



The Project Spectrum colors are getting ready to change from FIRE to EARTH. I'm ready to move out of the red-orange-pink spectrum and knit some nice earthy tones. The new colors will be brown and green. But, before the colors change I will give you a Project Spectrum FIRE slideshow - hopefully on Friday.