Sunday, April 29, 2007

Why the bread wouldn't rise

I used to be able to make bread, specifically, the Milk Bread described in the Joy of Cooking that we got as a wedding present. It was just as they described it, a delicious, rich white bread, perfect for French toast or rolls, etc. But since this Christmas dinner, during which I inflicted on my in-laws and other guest rock-hard Vienna rolls, I have had dough after dough refuse to rise. I've ascribed differnt reasons to different times--a cold draft, I punched it so hard it wouldn't rise a second time, etc.--but what I finally realized is that I've been killing the yeast!
I bought yeast and bread flour on our vacation, determined to get it right, and after succeeding with the Quick White Bread, I tried the Milk Bread again. I reread the incredibly helpful article on my Treo, then dug a little deeper to find out that not only can liquid not be hot enough, it can be so hot that it kills the yeast. Mystery solved, and look forward to a photo of loaf-shaped (not flat) bread here again.


Today was our first full day back in Brooklyn after our Texas vacation, and even though the Cherry Blossom Festival was on at BBG, I insisted we see the sheep (and alpacas) at the Prospect Park Zoo get their yearly shearing. Well, I got to see three sheep get shorn, though they did the alpacas in private, but the most interesting thing was seeing them spin the yarn that they had let the kids pick out and combine from the big tables of roving. There was a woman from Brooklyn general with a very compact spinning wheel, which she could actually slap into a backpack and carry around!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

phone calls made easier

phone calls made easier
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Tuesday night I had to call over twenty people about our church's hospitality Sunday. (Roughly once a month, we bring food and schmooze in the vestibule, catching up with old friends and trying to make newcomers feel welcome). Anyway, a bunch of sweeter people you couldn't wish for, but I don't know them all, and some will inevitably say no due to scheduling conflicts, and cold calls are always hard. So, about five names down the list, I remembered these booties (from Knitting for Baby), then all of a sudden the phone calls weren't a chore, and I discovered that one phone call is about the length of one double-pointed needle.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Why the holes?

Why the holes?
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Either, I was holding the orange way too tight, or, because I had it in my right hand, a new technique for me at the time, I wrapped the yarn the wrong way, or both. I'm happy to report that this has not happened to me in years, and that I have also learned that the background color should always be the one held in the nondominant hand. I remember discovering these rows sittong in my friend Tina's yard in 2004 and imploring her to agree that they were not that noticeable.

Sleeve half gone

Sleeve half gone
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Out with the old. Here, the old sleeve that I am finally ripping out. This was my first attempt at Fair Isle, and though I was much more relaxed by the time I got top this sleeve, the other one (completely transformed) was at least one inch narrower. If I ever needed a demonstration on why you should knit both sleeves at once, wherever possible, I've had it.

Easter egg sweater, taking shape

Well, the good news is, there are no more seams to be sewn, and I'm pretty taken with how the sweater looks. For the lower stripes, I pretty much let the length of the tiny balls guide me, and I let Coco pick the final sleeve color. I really need to pick up some size 4 dpns (lost by Continental luggage handling) so that I can whip out a coordinating hat or three.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Stitchionary dishcloth

Stitchionary dishcloth
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Yes, those are the fancy light-up needles, courtesy of my in-laws, but nowhere in the directions did it explain how to keep your kids from appropriating them as swords/light sabers/drumsticks every chance they get.

Easter egg sweater

Easter egg sweater 2
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Coming along, finally got to the part where I work the sleeves separately, and it's much more manageable. I've added a DEC on each side of every fourth row, nothing too drastic. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Monday, April 9, 2007


I did indeed finish the ballet sweater in time for Easter, and very much enjoyed all the compliments at churcg. It is pretty unique, but I will post the pattern if anybody wants a ballet wrap sweater (with set-in sleeves) for a big, tall six-year-old and has some 5 st/in yarn.
Also finished the W sweater, except for a few loose ends.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Got some good progress on the second sleeve cap while Coco was dancing and WAM was sleeping, but I had to take it all out because I forgot the first two lines I made up (BO3 at beginning of next 2 rows). Oh well, I made up some progress late last night while we watched videos of how they're going to improve the Grand Army Plaza area with grassy medians. Kelli not only finished the poncho, but also made a pretty hat to go with it, and today we get to pick knitted embellishments out of Knitting Over the Edge.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sleeve 1 is in

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Very satisfying to sew this in, and to all appearances, it looks as though the in-depth sleeve-cap mathematics (courtesy of the Girl from Auntie (via Knitty)) actually worked. I did not, however, wake the girl to make her try it on.


Well, besides the fact that everyone else has one, I love to talk about knitting, and though mDH will smile and nod when I explain that I've spent the evening doing sleeve-cap math, I'm wondering if I can't find some people who might be actually interested (/obsessed).

Testing 1-2-3

Just poured my heart (sort of) into a post about Coco's ballet sweater, then lost it. I need to get the hang of this.