Thursday, October 30, 2008

Daring Bakers October 2008 Challenge


I need to start putting these posting dates on my calendar - I missed it by a day!

But, I did do the challenge!

From the DB Kitchen page:

THE CHALLENGE: You have to use the tossing method (as explained below) for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. If you are not comfortable with it, then you can switch to the rolling method, but you HAVE to try the traditional method and exercise it, using at least two dough pieces. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

So, I made the pizza. Here's the dough flattened and resting for two hours before I start to throw it.
My pizza peel prepped.
Here's me tossing it - this was tough to get as my camera has a pretty long delay
Put on the peel to dress it.

For the first pizza, I made a simple red sauce (this is from a jar of Ragu with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled and a spoonful of chopped garlic).

Add some pepperoni . . .
And some cheese. . .

Bake for 8 minutes and it was a HUGE hit with the family. "This is WAY better than store bought, mom!"
For my experimental pizza, I tried to replicate the Thai Chicken Pizza. From my local Krogers, I bought some peanut sauce.

Then I grated some carrots on that and put some grilled chicken on top.

Add cheese and - most importantly, a little bit of cilantro. . .
The first pizza was such a hit, I had to hurry to get a finished pizza picture.

This was dead on, BTW. Really delicious.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ribber needle help

I am still having trouble with my ribber.

I have the tension right and turning the crank when I rib is pretty easy.


My latches are breaking off.

I just spent some time cranking ribbing to watch what is happening.

The latch is closed when in rest. The needle moves out and the loop moves behind the latch. Then the hook grabs the yarn and the latch closes and moves back to rest.

My problem is when the latch doesn't stay closed - the latch stands up and will snap off the next time the tappet passes the spot on the next round.

I don't know why the latches are staying up and haven't been able to watch how the latch stays up.

I need to figure this out. I just buggered up 4 ribber needles just this afternoon and eat up a ribber needle every time I put on the ribber attachment.

Anyone have any suggestions? I've played with tappet plate tension and even made sure my needles were well oiled.


Almost there!

I did a terrible thing and blew off going to Curves (and my friend MA) last night so I could guarantee that the cheer leading outfit will be done by Halloween.

I ended up working on this until 10:30 pm, but I got the skirt done - pleats and all.
Here's the outfit before I start to take stuff in to fit M.

I made this a little big so I can have a couple of years worth of play time.

I defintely got some techniques down after I made the top. Here's the trim. The trim on the left is the top, the trim on the right, the sleeve. I finally figured out how to make a clean "V" shape. The trim is simple bias tape - single on top, double on the bottom ironed to widen it out.

I also think I finally have the hang of sewing in zippers. The one on the left was the first one I did. The one on the right was the one I did last night for the skirt. It doesn't really show up here, but it's not as pucker-y (I know that's not a word, but you get the gist of what I'm trying to say).

The inside top of the skirt had to be hand stitched. It's not beautiful, but it'll do.
I have to make her a pair of knit panties (they're blue) but am not too worried if I don't get them done. The ones that come in the pattern are HUGE for M, so I'm going to see if we can wear a pair of green shorts underneath the skirt and just call this sucker done.

If you can't tell, this was a lot more than I had anticipated. I think the pattern is for a real cheer leading outfit, so there was more to it than the simpler patterns I make. Now that it's done, I'm pretty jazzed that it turned out as well as it did. I got intimidated and then pressed for time. Not a good combination.

Now I just need to hem up the top and put darts in the back of the skirt so it'll fit her skinny butt. She's really happy that I got it done. We even had planned a back up outfit just in case. M is very happy she doesn't have to go as Homestar Runner this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sewing Halloween Costume - T minus 2 days and counting


I still need to finish sewing M's Halloween costume. I've worked frantically on it the past two nights. The collar took some real thinking about, but I got it done. Last night I attached the sleeves and started sewing the skirt.

The top (I still have to hem the bottom - I'm waiting until I have the skirt done to figure out how long to make it):
M trying it on - She likes it a lot.

The bottom of the skirt pieced together:

Which will be folded and pleated.

I hope to have the skirt done by tonight. She has a school party on Friday, so I'm getting to the point where this HAS to get done.

Darning Egg

One of my knitting buddies' husband is a hobbiest wood worker. She had a darning egg that he made that I just drooled over.

Well, last Saturday she was so sweet and gave me one.
Isn't it beautiful? He made it out of rosewood and is just so smooth. I have a couple of socks I have to sew up and this will come in handy.

I'll have to ship some socks her way as a way of saying thanks. I know Big Texan wears Men's size 12.5.

I *so* do appreciate this!

Stacked Swing Bob

M loved her long hair, but I did not. Brushing her hair would inevitably devolve into her yelling and screaming and sometimes hitting.

We finally were able to convince her to get her hair cut because her best friend who had long hair got her hair cut into a stacked swing bob. Of course, when she was convinced, we couldn't get her hair cut because of the lice.

Well, the lice is finally gone (in her - I still have the critters and am getting very tired of having them) so she was able to get her hair cut.

She loves it. Oh, and the boo boo you see on her face came from last Thursday when she ran into the metal door jamb at school.

Friday, October 24, 2008

General Craftyness

My mom has been a crafter for as long as I can remember. When we lived in Alaska when I was a kid, we had a lot of indoor time - so mom converted the garage into her studio. It's funny. Last year I ended up reconnecting with one of the other moms from that period of my life. She remembers "Gail's Arts & Craft School" because mom would let the kids work on all sorts of different stuff. And we did a lot of different crafts - decoupage and making 3-D curio boxes were huge. Over the years, mom tried everything - crochet, macrame, etc. . . Except for knitting. She just picked that up last year.

One Christmas we decided to not buy stuff for each other - or if they were bought, they'd have to be creative in some way.

I really attribute my ability to "think outside the box" to this early childhood exposure to being creative. Being creative in my family is a virtue.

So, now that I have a kiddo, I have successfully passed this meme to my offspring.

M had SO much fun at Maker Faire. What made me realize just how much fun it was, M was JUST as excited to go to day two as she was to go the first day.

On day two, J & M met up with some college friends - they have four kids - a 12, 8, 6, and 3 year old. The 12 and 8 yo ran off to see Maker Faire and took a cell phone with them. After an hour or so, they started texting their parents saying that they've seen everything and they wanted to go. M said they kept texting and texting. After a while, the parents ended up leaving. It was a foreign concept to her. She told me with very wide eyes, "Momma, I know they didn't see everything - there's a lot to do here. I just don't understand why they wanted to leave." So do I have two more years left till mom becomes uncool to hang around?

M made a fabric lunch bag over at the Craft Stylish/Singer booth. Here's her while making it. Notice the intense concentration.

I remember her coming over to show me her bag and telling me that she had pushed the fabric and controlled the pedals all by herself. I'm sure the people running the booths were there watching her like a hawk. I'm just glad she got to do one - I heard the machines were packed. Here she is with it done:

The photo above was from the Craft Stylish blog. The caption said, "M***** Hattan proudly displays the lunch bag she made over at the Singer Show booth. Six-and-a-half-year-old M***** told us she has been sewing since she was six."

I thought that was really cute.
As we were leaving Maker Faire to go home, she announced to me that when she grows up, she'll have her own booth with her own workers at a Maker Faire.

Yes, I definately have passed the Craft meme to my kid.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Great News

Last November my FIL had his gall bladder removed and never felt 100% so the doc did some tests.

FIL was diagnosed with cancer of his duodenum. He had surgery to have it removed hoping that the cancer was just located in one place.

Alas - no. He was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer and had to undergo chemo.

Skip to six months later, we found out that that my FIL is cancer free.

Very rare. He said that they caught the cancer very early. He did loose 100 pounds and apparently it got a little scary because he was losing a pound a day. Last week they all went to the coast for a quick weekend get-away and he actually felt hungry. We're all very happy the doctors were able to cure him.

Doesn't Travel Well

One of the things that I have learned is that my CSM doesn't travel well. Once I have it set up at home after a few socks, I have my machine humming.

Well, Maker Faire was fun, but my ribber just wasn't cooperating. Fortunately, Sarah's Legare 400 was and we were able to demonstrate ribbing.

But I have a few socks to whip out for various swaps I made, so I have to get those done right away.

I set up the machine with the ribber & needles. Turn the crank - the ribber needles were tilting and hanging up the knitting.

Troubleshooting time.

My tappet plate had slipped down which means that I had to set everything back up.

What do I mean about the tappet plate slipping?

Look at this sketch:

Everything labeled H is actually a part of the tappet plate. G is the Ribber Dial, and J is the ribber Arm.

H9 is actually a long smooth dowel that keeps all three items together. The dial (G) needs to be snug with the tappet plate (H). You do this by making sure they're snug before you tighten the screw at the top (J3).

My screw has a way of loosening during travel - which in turn makes the tappet plate and dial loose. If they're loose, then the butts of the ribber needles will tilt because the weight on the knitting will bring the front of the needle down.

So, I tightened it.

Set up the needles and cranked.

Still not cranking easily.

So I look at the timing. Sure enough, the cylinder needles were knitting before the ribber needles - so I adjusted it by loosening the timing screw (H1) and sliding it around in the slot (H2) until each needle was knitting in turn.

Set up the needles and cranked.

Still getting tilted needles.

So I put my machine aside for a few days (I did all this on Monday) to think why would this still be doing this?

Tappet/Dial snug? - check
Timing good? - check

I just couldn't think about why some of the needles would still be tilting. The ribber needles would tilt before the hook of the needle would grab the yarn.


That means that there is too much weight on the ribber needle. But I need that weight - and the cylinder needles seem to be knitting just fine.

Which brings me to tension. I remembered that in order to demonstrate the tension on my machine, I would dial it up really high to show tight tension, then dial it really low to show loose tension.

Sure enough when I looked at my cylinder tension, it was dialed super high. So this is what I think is happening.

The cylinder needles are tensioned too tightly because once the fabric knits, there's not enough give in the yarn. So looking at a 1 x 1 rib, I'd have a tight tensioned cylinder needle, a normal tensioned ribber needle, and a tight tensioned cylinder needle. I think what is happening is that once the rib is made, the yarn tries to reach some type of tension equilibrium, which means that the rib needle ends up getting more weight distributed to it after knitting the fabric. At least that's what I THINK may be happening.

I'll have to play with this some more. . .

If it seems like I'm obsessing - I am. When I felt Sarah's Legare 400 with the ribber set up, it wasn't hard to turn the crank and it just purred. I want my machine to sound/feel like that and I think I can achieve it. It's just a matter of finding the right settings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

CSM-Phone Cozy

I forgot that I had made my phone cozy before I took off for Maker Faire.

You may recognize the yarn - it came from the tail of a ball of socks I made for my mom (Knit Picks Felicity).

The stats:

9 rows
Picot row (yo, k2tog)
9 rows
Hang hem

Knit 25 rows plain

Make toe

Scrap yarn - sew toe.

Three needle I-cord (I now wish I made a 4 needle i-cord).

Love it. Very useful and I can hear my phone ring!

I did not do the button hole - mainly because I just started cranking right after I hung the hem and forgot. I'll still try to make a button hole one of these days.

Maker Faire was Fab!

This year's Faire was bigger than last year's - they had double the crafters there this year. I think it's because more local folks are discovering what it is.

I had planned on trying to get to the grounds the night before to just get the lay of the land - see if I had a table & chairs, but we arrived fairly late because there was an accident in Temple and the State Troopers literally shut down I-35 going south. A luck would have it, there was only one lane getting through on the feeder road because of construction. We were tired travelers and just wanted to sleep by the time we got to Austin.

Going the night before, turns out, was really not necessary. We got the the fair grounds by 8:30, checked in, found the booth, set up and were ready to go an hour later.

I got lucky this year in that a CSM'er who lives in Georgetown GRACIOUSLY accepted my invitation to come out and demonstrate - Sarah Easter - you rock! Thank you so much for coming.

The thing is, I signed up for the Maker Faire as a last minute - "oh, what the heck, I'll see if they'll accept me" kind of thing. I didn't really think through the logistics of actually showing the machine off and what I would need before I submitted.

As the time got closer, I started obsessing privately about what it was I was going to do and decided that I really needed two machines to demonstrate - one would be set up with the ribber, the other would be just plain knitting. I also printed off a couple of photo's that I got from Richard Candee's history of the CSM and some photo's I got from Roxana Baechle.

I posted in the local Yahoo group sock_crankers and Sarah answered my frantic cries for help. She has three machines - an NZAK, a Legare 400, and a Gearheart. The Gearheart is still being renovated, and her Legare is her best functioning machine.

Anyway, Sarah made it out shortly after I had arrived and between the two of us, we got the booth set up. Since we were still a little early, Sarah was able to punch out a pair of socks on her Legare in 45 minutes. My confidence in showing off the machines was really high. Hey, we could maybe even make a couple of pairs of socks while we're here.


Here's a photo of us right after we got the booth set up. Sarah's the red head.
On the first day I tried to explain the history of the machines. People REALLY weren't interested in that - they wanted to see HOW the machines worked. So the second day I would show them the anatomy of a cylinder needle and show how the fabric is knitted. That seemed to go over better. Sarah after a while was my heel/toe girl and knitted a mutant string of heels.

Saturday was CRAZY busy. If we were like Mary Berry who sells socks, we would have sold TONS of socks this weekend. Since we were Makers and not a part of Bizarre Bazaar, we really couldn't - and honestly we wouldn't have had the man power to do it. Sarah's baby hats were very popular, too.

So, what worked:

Having two people there worked great. I was the talker and showed how the machine knits by giving the anatomy of the cylinder needle and showing each stage of how a loop is made. I could then go into how the tension changes the loop size. We also had pulled out our extra cylinders we weren't using to show how we change the number of needles to vary the size of the sock. It was nice to have a dramatic difference in that Sarah has a 54 needle cylinder and some socks made on it. I had a couple of 72 needle socks made and I would compare the two socks. I also was fortunate in that Sarah is a wiz and has socks with ribs on the tops of the socks - so we could show how ribbing can affect the size of the socks, too. It was a fast way to show how we can control sock size.

The other nice thing about having the pair of socks still together was it allowed me to go through the steps - i.e., the leg and the foot are knit in the round, and the heel/toes are done "flat". It worked the best when I folded the heel open to show the increase/decrease of the heel. While I pointed on the sock, Sarah frantically showed how quickly she could turn a heel. It worked really well.

What I'd do next time:

  • I'd like to show more examples of other things you can knit on the machine. I have a couple of ideas - toys, wrist warmers, etc. . .
  • Bring a 10 x 10 carpet remnant. We were in the show barn. While the aisles where the people walked were asphalt, the booths were located on dirt. I felt filthy at the end of each day, plus the scrap yarn and socks would get dropped.
  • Bring a cooler with water. Since the machines are such crowd pleasers, we didn't really get a chance to get up and go get something. Little snacks would have been nice, too. One of our fellow Makers was SO great and would occasionally come over to feed us some cheese and crackers (you were a lifesaver - really!).
  • I'd ideally like three machines loaded. One to show how the needles make the fabric. One to show how to turn a heel. And the last on to show how the ribbing works. As it was, when Sarah, rightfully, spent time with her family, she set up her machine to rib so I would briefly show how the heel is turned and then could point over and turn her machine to demonstrate the ribber.
  • More people. While I had a BLAST showing off the machine, it would have been nice to be able to go and look around Maker Faire with my family. Being "on" for 8 hours non-stop is hard. My voice is pretty horse right now. If I can get more people, I'd also request a larger booth.
  • Wipes. Did I mention the dust? I ended up buying a small travel pack, but it would have been nice to not worry about running out.
  • Small trash can. We went through a lot of scrap yarn. Would have been nice to have a container rather than a plastic bag.
Oh, and our booth won an "Editor's Choice" award. (Whoot!) I'm aware it's really a ribbon for the machines, but still, it was nice recognition from the Make/Craft editors. They are really great enthusiastic people - you can tell they truly love what they do. It was fun sharing how the machines work with them.

J went over to Make: TV and signed me up for an audition. I briefly discussed the machine and showed the cylinders/sock width differences. If I get a call to do a segment - great. If not, I'm okay with that, too.

Note to any Maker Faire organizers: 10 pm quitting time on Saturday is INSANE. Most of my fellow makers bugged out around 6:30 - 7. I started packing up at 8 since I was literally one of a few Makers left. That and this is Austin, Texas. If you noticed, the fair grounds emptied out shortly after the Eepy Birds did their thing. That's because a lot of people were headed out to watch the game - not me. I headed back to the hotel to crash.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Heart sock

I now have my 60 needle cylinder on my CSM and decided that my Plymouth Happy Feet yarn needed to become Heart Socks.

I don't have the other one made and I'll not have it done before Maker Faire. I'm trying to do different projects on the machine so I can display the different types of socks the machine can make.

Here's a bad close up. The batteries on my camera died, so I couldn't get a good photo.

Since I'm going to make the mate later, here are the details so I can re-create this sock.

9 rows, yarn over row, 9 rows, hang hem.
Start 60 needle pattern from Jenny Deter's book and do 40 rows.
Do the heel
I did only one repeat of the 40 rows. I also didn't center the pattern at the front of the sock, so the pattern down the foot was skewed. After the 40 row pattern, I knitted another 28 rows plain (total 68 rows for foot) and did the toe.

It fits great and I'm very pleased with the finished sock.

I'm going to try to make a cell phone sock necklace so I can keep my phone within earshot at the fair. I get to try to make i-cords! Whoot! I think I'll also try to put a button hole on it at the top.

The idea:

Do the 9 row picot edging - hang hem.

Knit two rows.

at the front, bind off three to four stitches. Knit around to the bound off stitches. Cast on with an e-loop and knit for a couple of rows. I may need to hang a heel fork on the work in this area to keep pressure on it. I was going to eyeball the cuff length and then do a toe. Kitchner the ends, sew on a button. Make a three stitch i-cord long enough to go around my neck. We'll see proof of concept tonight.

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

I had some dough left in the refrigerator today and decided that I had to try the Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book.

I didn't take step by step photo's this time, but I did take a photo of it right out of the oven in the pan,
And here it is flipped:

They're cooling as I write this and waiting for M to come home.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wordy Shipmates

I have really enjoyed reading this book. It's not like past Sarah Vowell books - I guess it's not as light as her other stuff.

But it's really good. She looks at the motivations of the Puritans and truly understands them. It's not going as quickly as her past books, but I'm captivated.

She was on The Daily Show on October 7th. Give it a watch. She's in the third segment.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Playing with the CSM - Lace

I bought Jenny Deter's CSM sock pattern book and tried to make the diamond pattern.

Unfortunately, I dropped a stitch and couldn't recover. But I did get through one pattern repeat.

Impressive, huh?

I did this on the 72 cylinder. I have that on my machine right now. I have it on for Men's socks. Personally, a 72 makes too wide of a sock. I prefer my 60 cylinder. With all the big foot men I have in my life, I wanted to knit through the sock yarn I have. I have just one more left, so I'll knit that up tonight and put the 60 cylinder back on.

I'm also getting low on my cylinder needles. I actually have only 75 cylinder needles left from the original 100. I do have some large hook needles, but my Auto Knitter doesn't play well with the large hook needles. I think they're probably better suited on the LeGare's.

I'd like to buy another machine - gasp! Mainly because once I move a cylinder over to the machine, it takes a while for it to settle in. I would love a NZAK and there's one for sale right now that would be just perfect. Alas, I have to save my pennies. :( It sucks being fiscally responsible sometimes!

I did have fun with knitting this sort of sock. Following the pattern is a little like following a lace pattern when you hand knit. This gives me an idea to, perhaps, write up a CSM pattern based on the candy cane dishcloth. Should be easy enough.

Jenny Deter's also mentioned that she's going to be putting together another pattern book. She just won the latest CSM sock design contest with an outstanding fair-isle style sock that she knitted on her machine. I suspect the pattern book will be made along those lines.

I also have another idea to make a lumbar support pillow. Just start with a toe, knit in the round for a while, then end with a toe. Kitchner one side, stuff, kitchner the other. Should be easy enough to do.

I also have thought about the Mochimochi snake that I hand knitted. It's a simple 2 x 1 rib. I could short row the head of the snake - for both the head and the mouth. Then knit another rib for the inside. The only thing I'm having trouble thinking through is how to do the taper at the ends. I'm thinking along the lines of having to do some hand work. Just don't know.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Maker Faire!

Well, Maker Faire is just two weeks away and I'm really stoked! They even have my booth info up on-line now.

If you haven't made it to a Maker Faire and are a crafty type, you are missing one of the most fun fairs around. Try to come by this year! If you do, come and see the CSM first hand!


I am so sick of head lice! We've been dealing with it over the past three weeks and thought we'd been able to get rid of them.


I've never had lice, never seen lice, so I didn't know what to look for. We were at the local Sweet & Sassy and the gal there showed me the nits that were in my daughter's hair. There weren't any lice at the time, but I did wash my daughter's hair and found one while combing through it. They're basically fleas for humans.

I don't have them and neither does J, but I keep worrying every time I have an itchy scalp. Poor M. She's not sleeping well which makes for a very cranky girl - and a very frustrated mom.

The lady at the hair cutting place said that lice has been bad this year in the area.

(Edited: Well, I do have lice. I found one in my hair just this afternoon. Just ran off to get the treatment - crap! This just ook's me out on so many levels.)


I finished knitting the Lady Eleanor Stole. I'm muddling through how to attach the fringe as it's wider than the original pattern (I used chunky yarn instead of worsted weight). I'll end up pulling some of the fringe off as I'm going to put a strand at every inch mark.

I knitted up the other blue sock for a pair.

This is ribbed sock that I don't have the mate knitted up yet. I'm having difficulty with my machine again.
1 x 1 rib - 20 rows
3 x 1 rib - 30 rows
plain - 15 rows (pre-heel)
foot - ? forgot - (will update later)

Since I'm having trouble, I decided to make some mock rib socks.

72 needle cylinder
3 needles in, one out.
20 rows - hung hem
40 rows - leg
15 rows - pre-heel
68 rows - foot
Size 10 mens

The first sock has holes in the area between the leg and the pre-heel. I moved one stitch over for each new needle. It didn't close the holes. The second time I pulled the loop from the row below the needle next to the one I put in - the holes are closed! Whoot!

Hung hemmed socks are quicker for me to knit right now. I'll stick to those for a bit, but I know using my ribber will just make it easier for me to use it. I still don't have a really good feel for it yet. And yes, you need to develop a feel for your machine. I can't crank as fast with the ribber as I can with the plain knitting.