Tuesday, May 29, 2007


It was extremely satisfying to start this Mason-Dixon washcloth at knitting circle Wednesday and present it to Coco on Friday night for her bath. I made some last summer as hostess presents before a trip, and they're just so much fun, with the bobbles, eyelets, and fast decreases. Also, the Peaches and Creme cotton yarn (color: Fiesta) is beautiful. Pictures don't do it justice, but I heartily agree with the Yarn Harlot's comments about being endlessly fascinated by watching how variegated yarns change colors.

Her majesty admired it for about three minutes, then looked up at me and said, "Is this really a dishcloth?"
"Do you think you could stop making washrags and make some placemats?"
Well, at least she knows what she wants.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Two good things

After Friday's disappointments, I've had a small string of good luck. On Sunday, I finished the first sock of the pair I'm working on while out to brunch with some friends. Perhaps one day someone will explain to me what exactly to do with the last two stitches if you're working kitchner stitch, but, after closing that tiny gap from the inside, I feel the toe looks pretty acceptable.

Then, though I did everything wrong I possibly could, including not making the potato soft enough, letting it cool down, mixing things in the wrong order, etc., the buttermilk potato bread hamburger buns for Monday night's dinner came out big and beautiful and light and delicious. Again, I'm finding that giving the dough double (or more) the rising time works really well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Monument to Stubbornness

Boy was I upset when I took this picture Friday night. I knew this hat wouldn't work, but I kept knitting. Specifically, I knit one hundred and eight garter stitch ridges (that's two hundred and sixteen actual rows, not to mention over one hundred picked-up stitches and k2togs), knowing that this would not look like a Kangol hat, but lying to myself that I couldn't tell for sure until I finished. Well, maybe I'll listen to myself more carefully next time. Other note to self, if it looks big on the recipient's head half-finished, it will not miraculously shrink once completed.
Anyway, the reason the bread is wearing the hat is because it was another thing where I shot myself in the foot. It rose beautifully and was all ready to cook, but the recipe stressed that it should cook for only 10 minutes at 475, then the oven needed to be turned down to 375. I put the bread in as the kids were going to bed, and I set the quiet kitchen timer. Did I hear it? No. Would the bread have looked less sunken if I had? I think so. Anyway, the bread turned out to taste just fine, and the yarn can be used again, but it would seem I need to put a little more thought into my actions. Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Congratulations, Sophia and Cristof

For the past two weeks, my free knitting moments have been focused almost exclusively on finishing a wedding present for this charming couple. My first (rather too ambitious) goal was to have two hand towels (from Mason-Dixon) ready for the actual celebration, after buying the yarn at Seaport Yarn a week before. The revised goal was to get it to them before they head back to Germany and I made it in just under the wire.
(Background: Sophia is the daughter of one of Ian's coworkers, who graciously invited the whole family, even the two short ones who don't always behave at restaurants, to the stateside postwedding celebration. The big ceremony will be in Germany later in the summer, and though we are sorely tempted, we don't think we can swing a European trip two years in a row. Anyway, though Coco and Washington had never met the newlyweds, they gravitated to them right away. Washington, in fact, took one look at Sophia in her beautiful sari, then turned to me and said, "I'm gonna marry the bride." Both the bride and groom were so patient and gracious with our children that I hope they are blessed with many of their own, if they so desire.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

That Charlie Brown

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
I made this shirt when Washington's cheeks were even fuller and his hair was just about invisible (top photo) and he just seemed to me like a dead-ringer for "that round-headed kid." I also figured he was so little that I could dress him however I wanted. Of course it still fits, and now he likes to pretend he's Charlie Brown.
(Knitting notes: I used "Style Your Own Kids' Knits" as my jumping-off point, but I knit in the round up to the sleeves so that I could use the "Fair-Isle Knitting Simplified" technique. If the picture were clearer, you'd see the black showing through the yellow a bit, but overall I was pleased with how it came out, though I prefer not to use Sugar & Cream cotton anymore, because it hurts my hands.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How to get your kid in the bath

bath rags
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Most of the time my kids, especially the two-year-old, are eager to get into the bath and splash, but every so often I get a big NO when I start running the water. The last time this happened, I enticed Washington in by offering him both the hand-knit washrags I've made recently. (The red one was supposed to be a dishcloth, but it seemed a tad small). They won't always wear what I've knit them, but apparently something about the feel of Kitchen Cotton, or the ability to wad and squeeze something I worked on, just captures their imaginations. The small, black washrag, which I really just made to demonstrate increases and decreases, has been a fish, a cape for a knight, a hat, a skirt . . . . I can't explain the phenomenon, but I'm certainly eager to knit a few more.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I can make bread again

With a lot of assistance from my two kitchen helpers (pouring, dumping, brushing, sprinkling), my first attempt at cinnamon raisin bread (based on Joy's Milk Bread) came out very satisfactorily. Due to scheduling (e.g., having to leave the house to pick up Coco from school), I ended up letting each rise go on a little longer than recommended, but that only seemed to help.

Good-bye, Winter

Good-bye, Winter
Originally uploaded by mariawmcgrath.
Tomorrow will be over 80, and we're planning on holding knitting circle in the park, so I figured it was finally time to box up the hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, etc. This winter was a good time for me and KnitPicks merino, and I was especially pleased with Washington and Coco's matching hats. Already I'm looking forward to the almost visceral thrill I'll feel next fall when I open this box and realize that the vast majority of the items were created by me. One of the few traditions I've been really consistent about is to make new mittens or gloves for Coco and Washington every winter. Also helps lessen the heartbreak when one gets lost.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Thanks, Crochet Dude

Finished the grocery bag dispenser from the Crochet Dude (tm) and Washington graciously tested it out for me. Should do just fine, and I'm still pretty pleased with the cheery color.

Welcome home, Baby Jack

Our downstairs neighbors brought home their baby boy a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to whip out these booties from Melanie Falick's Knitting for Baby while we were on vacation. These are the traditional no-sew ones, done on five DPNs, but since it's almost summer, I made them in cotton (and since I already made them once, in two colors for an additional challenge). Jack's mother thanked me and then said she used to knit but hasn't in years. I'm always a little frightened when people tell me that because knitting is such a big part of my life and because I have years' worth of projects spinning around in my brain. I just can't imagine whatever might come up to make me give this up.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Happy springtime crochet

It's only a plastic grocery bag holder for the hospitality commitee (the woman in charge hasn't been able to find one in months of searching), but could the yarn be any sinshinier? I bought it years ago for a project it was absolutely wrong for--not that I should have been asking the advice of a quilting store employee anyway, but I was a green knitter and really asked advice from anyone--and now it's just enchanting to watch it coming together.