Saturday, December 5, 2015


I'm going to a pot luck later and so I made this.
It's called Watergate Salad, presumably because it was served at the Watergate Hotel. I can't think of anything political about it. 

Anyway, I digress. My Grannie used to be one of the cooks at the Brownwood Hospital and in her day, people came to the hospital to eat (especially her hamburgers) even if they didn't have anyone there to visit. She made every type of jello salad there was and this is one of the ones I remember her for. 

It's dead easy. 
1 20oz can of crushed pineapple (her recipe said a #2 can)
1 package of pistachio instant pudding
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup thawed whipped cream (like cool whip)
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix everything together and chill. 

As I was mixing the pineapple and pudding mix, I had one of those scent memories and I was back in her kitchen watching her cook and having a good old natter. It was such a joyful memory that I wasn't expecting. 

Here's to my Grannie!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a spatula or two to lick.  Emmmm…clean. Wash.   

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Design Challenges

As you begin to design your own projects, the first thing to let go of is your pride.  I'm talking about pride in the sense that you can't admit a mistake and make it right.  Perfectionism.  It can sometimes be rooted in arrogance but I think it's more often rooted in lack of confidence.  It can't exist for a designer.

To design something, you may see it very clearly in your mind's eye or you may see as through a glass darkly.  Either way, it's always likely (to the point of being probable) that you are going to go down avenues that just don't work.  It just doesn't give you what you want so you have to back up, take stock and try another route.

As a very simplistic example, take my chunky & lace cowl.

I used a US size 4 needle for both the lace weight yarn and the  heavier yarn because it was a good size for the lace and it was okay for the other.  In fact, it worked great for the beginning section where I was alternating between the two yarns but as I began to work the solid section with the heavier yarn, I realized it wasn't working.  The fabric was way too thick and rigid.  

With the yarn that I'm using, it will felt naturally as the cowl is worn.  If it felted with the fabric as thick as it was, it would stand up all on it's own!  That's great if you're building a house.  You want your creation to stand on it's own if you're building a house.  When you're making a cowl, on the other hand, it's not the most desirable quality.  You want it to be soft and drapey, with plenty of give and stretch to it.

So I was here:
You can see that I'd worked a good 6 inches or so of the heavier yarn by the time I realized it wasn't right.  In fact, I kept knitting for quite a few rows after I knew it was wrong.  I'm still not sure why but this is where I ended up.  

I ripped back until I was almost back to the last lace panel, picked up the stitches with a US size 7 needle and started back.  Soooo much better and I'm so glad that I wasn't afraid of giving up the time I'd put into the project so I can end up with something I really like and that works from a design standpoint.

So now I'm back to here:
But now I can knit content.  

Before you ask, I did adjust the number of stitches to accommodate for the larger needles.  Three needle sizes would have made it way too large so I decreased about 16 stitches around (about 10% - there were 160 stitches in all).  This should bring it back into line to what it was although I may need to decrease a few more in the next few rounds.

A word to the wise, if you have to rip out a whole lot of rows/rounds, the best thing to do is roll the project up list you see here, take the needles out and then rip out your rows/rounds.  The reason this works so much better is that it keeps the fabric in control and so makes less mess with the open stitches.  If you just start ripping out willy nilly, you'll find that some stitches will ladder into lower rows/rounds and it will make the process of getting the stitches back on the needle that much more difficult. It's much more gentle on the fabric and the open stitches.