Dishcloth-a-Day: Day Nineteen

Today started off with a Vox Musica educational outreach to a high school in El Dorado Hills. I got there with more than ten minutes to spare, but ended up parking on completely the wrong side of the school so barely made it to the actual performance space in time. Ah well. The program went well – we talked about what we do, and demoed a couple songs for them, and then took them through a warm-up. They they sang a few pieces for us, which was a lot of fun, because it was an all-girls choir and they were absolutely terrific. Then there was a little bit of workshopping on their pieces, and we ended the entire thing by all joining in on a song together.

And then it was time to hike back to my car and drive to work, where I discovered that the government site where I’ve been extracting data for more than ten years has now moved things around and I cannot find several of the data types anymore, and then I accidentally sent several large zip files to the wrong person, and well that should indicate that clearly the day wasn’t done messing with me yet.

*****

Today’s dishcloth isn’t a pattern so much as just a stitch. I started a completely different one – something called the risotto stitch (no, I have no idea why it’s called that either), but I am sorry, life is too short to do that kind of tedious work in *cotton*. So instead I picked the bamboo stitch (link takes you to a site that shows how to make it), grabbed one of the balls of variegated from the stash, cast on 36, and got knitting.

Dishcloth-Bamboo Stitch

As usual, click the picture to enlarge, if you can’t see what the stitch actually looks like in this tinier version. This isn’t a reversible stitch (in that it doesn’t look the same on the other side), but I do love a stitch that lays flat, so I count this as a win.

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Dishcloth-a-Day: Day Eighteen

Today’s dishcloth doesn’t have a pattern to link to because I pretty much just made it up. I did up a quick chart of an idea in a spreadsheet, and then I knit it from there. Yes, I will publish it eventually, once I work out some of the issues. Slipping stitches tends to pull the fabric in a bit, which is fine if you’re spreading them evenly across your piece, but not so fine if you cluster them to the sides, like in this case. Only very carefully extra-loose knitting of the slipped stitches kept it mostly square-shaped for this first prototype, so I need to sit and think for a bit on how to alleviate that in a final version (plus do some additional tinkering to get the size more to what I want it to be).

Dishcloth-Boxy

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Dishcloth-A-Day: Day Seventeen

Today’s pattern is a variation on the Two Color Ladder Stitch, primarily because the first time I tried it, I wasn’t reading the pattern correctly in the first place and did the entire thing in stockinette and oh, the curling. Shudder. So I ripped it out and did the entire thing in garter stitch, which looks fine, but hey, upon rereading the pattern, turns out I should have been doing that half the time anyway and that probably would have fixed the curling issue entirely. Ah well.

Dishcloth-Ladder

The color combination sort of remind me of ice cream. I’m not entirely sure why – maybe it’s the brown (chocolate) against the pastels (neapolitan, perhaps?). But since I’ve still got a bunch of both of these colors left in the cotton stash, expect to see it popping up again at at least once during the remainder of the month.

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Dishcloth-A-Day: Day Sixteen

This is what knitting in my house looks like. Note presence of 4 cats (because I know someone will ask, from bottom to top: Ingrid, Rupert, Nutmeg, Azzie).

2015-02-16 KnittingCompanions

If they could all actually be *on* me they would, but as it is, they have to settle for being near me. And occasionally yawning, stretching, and oh hey, are you working with *yarn*? Let me taste that for you!

(also, yes, there are also 4 handmade afghans in view as well)

*****

Today’s dishcloth is the Staircase Slipstitch pattern. I do like the look of slipped stitch patterns, except for the fact that the backside usually isn’t as nice looking as the front. In some cases I might mind, but we’re talking about a square of cotton that’s just going to be used to scrub things, so….yeah, whatever.

Dishcloth-Stairstitch

Unlike with yesterday’s, I am really loving today’s color combo. Alas, this will be the only time it shows up, as there’s not enough of either color left to do this again.

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Dishcloth-a-Day: Day Fifteen (oh and also pastry)

So. The kouign amann (link takes you to the recipe I used).

I have been intrigued by this weird little pastry ever since I saw it show up as a technical challenge in the most recent season of Great British Bake Off. I’ve made lots of interesting baked things over the years and really enjoy it when I get to play in the kitchen with flour and butter and sugar and yeast. But I am also really just an amateur baker (much, of course, like the contestants on GBBO) and some things I have always been a little hesitant about trying. Laminated dough is one of those things (the dough that’s used in making items like croissants and kouign amann and other similar types of concotions). It always seemed so unbearable *fussy*, having to chill and fold and chill and fold and so on ad nauseum, and every time I have seen it discussed (usually on some sort of competition show), it comes across as the sort of thing that only a really experienced pastry chef would do.

But then I reminded myself that hey, self, you have built not one, but TWO crouquembouche (with homemade caramel strands, no less), and you made strudel dough from scratch not once, but TWICE, with the dough so thin that you could, quite literally, read *through* it, so what’s a little laminated dough among friends? How hard could it possibly be?

As it turns out, it wasn’t actually hard at all.

Okay, granted, making this kind of dough *is* fussy. There’s no getting around the fact that if you really want the classic flaky layers, you have to be willing to put in the effort and time. You *do* have to pay attention to the clock and be mindful of your measurements (my baking improved tremendously the day I started measuring by weight instead of by volume. A kitchen scale is the home baker’s very best friend), but if you follow the recipe, it’s really pretty simple. The dough is pretty straightforward – just flour and yeast and water and salt and little bit of melted butter to get things started. Then you let it rise for an hour and in the meantime you smash a giant hunk of butter into a square with your rolling pin, and wrap that up and stash it in the fridge. And then when the dough has risen, you roll it out, plunk the chilled butter square into the middle, fold it all up, give it a go with the rolling pin, and another fold, and pop it back into the fridge for a rest. Do that two more times (the fold and roll, not the addition of the butter – once is plenty of butter, trust me), and then one more time, except this time you sprinkle it liberally with sugar before you fold and roll, sprinkle liberally with sugar a second time, and then you cut it into squares, gather the corners, pop them into a muffin tin, let sit for a bit, bake, and poof – done. You have made kouign amann.

2015-02-14-kouign amann

The tops of mine got just a hair over-browned – I was glad I thought to check them when I did, because if i’d left them in the full 40 minutes they would have been burnt – but otherwise, they turned out beautifully. Biting into one is a messy experience since the outer layers are delicate and tend to flake into bits as soon as your teeth hit them, but the inside is lovely and soft and buttery, with a little bit of caramelized sugar to sweeten things up. I freely admit to doing a fair bit of giddy squealing as I pulled one apart and saw actual layers in my dough. I was so worried I’d screw it up, but I didn’t- not at all! Bonus, they’re incredibly delicious (so much better than the ones I’ve bought from bakeries). This is a pastry I’ll definitely be making again.

*****

Back to the knitting, now that we have gotten our pastry squeeing out of the way. To make up for the boring garter stitch square from yesterday, today’s pattern – Portcullis – uses 2 colors, and a wee bit of lace.

Dishcloth-Portcullis

I am not quite sure how I feel about the color combination here. It looked better side by side in the skeins than it does when knit up. I suppose if I cared enough I could have ripped it out and picked something different. Clearly I did not.

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The shades of grey you were really looking for

So a long while ago, back when news first started coming out that a certain laughably bad book series was going to be made into a movie, I looked at the cats and I pondered for a bit, and then – then I had an amusing thought. Fast forward a month or two, to last September, and I put a call out on the interwebs, asking for people to send me pictures of..certain things. Fuzzy things. More specifically, grey things. It didn’t matter what species; all that mattered is that they had to be grey. And shed.

And then life got busy and I kept forgetting to go back and deal with all the pictures, and fast forward to February, when I realized that the movie’s official release date was going to fall right on Valentine’s Day and so if I was going to capitalize on this silly amusing thought, I’d better get cracking.

So today, in between making kouign amann (yes, really, but you will have to wait until tomorrow to hear more about that) and cleaning the house, I have been camped out at my computer, fighting with Google’s video editor (which is…mostly, but not completely, intuitive. Or in other words, there was definitely some swearing involved, but it was at a minimum), putting all the pictures together and coming up with text and picking just the right music, and..okay, seriously, people, I am clearly not a videographer, but I think it turned out okay, and the whole point was just to make people laugh, so without further ado, here you go.

*****

Today’s dishcloth is a plain old garter stitch cloth again, because people, I was busy all day baking delicate pastries and putting together an AWESOME video for all of you and who has time for caring about actual patterns? Look, here is a perfectly beautiful, flaky and delicious kouign amann to distract you from how boring the dishcloth underneath actually is. Mmm. Pastry.

dishcloth-garterstraight-2

Astute readers may notice that that this is now the fourth dishcloth done in the same teal. I did warn you all I had a lot of it in my atash. And there’s still plenty more to go.

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Dishcloth-A-Day: Day Thirteen

So it’s been all kinds of exciting (and by ‘exciting’ I mean the type of excitement that makes me want to smash things) around here the last few days. Yesterday I was dealing with some comments on the most recent entry and discovered that my site wasn’t working – a 500 error was all that would pop up. Gah. I couldn’t figure out what might have happened – the only thing I ever do on it these days is post entries here, so it’s not as if I’m mucking around in the backend files or the underlying database. Bizarrely, the WordPress admin side was working, sort of, but the main blog site – kaput. Nothing.

Throughout the day I checked in with Richard to see if he’d had any luck getting any feedback from the support ticket he submitted for me (it being hard for me to deal with that while in a meeting). Finally, last night, my site was back up again, with the rather cryptic explanation that somehow a specific file had been edited, but they’d fixed it, and oh by the way they also checked all our other sites and they were all fine. Hmm.

Fast forward to this morning when I decided I was going to see if they really *did* check all our sites, and hey, what do you know, more 500 errors! This time the site impacted didn’t have a WordPress install (at least not as the main page) so it made me feel a bit better about maybe it being something I’d done inadvertently, but again, it took them most of the day to get it fixed. I also went in and checked every single subdomain I could think to check – found a couple more that clearly hadn’t been fixed like the support ticket claimed, and then we sat back and waited. Impatiently. And also very annoyed.

Things seem to be working fine now, and curiously, another issue that’d been vexing Richard on another of our sites has also been mysteriously fixed. Oh, and it turns out that there were some updates to the back end server (by our hosting company). I am SURE that had nothing whatsoever to do with why everything suddenly broke at exactly the same time. Ahem.

Yes, I know, #FirstWorldNerdProblems. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

*****

Today’s dishcloth is another one with no linked pattern (yet) due to me making it up off the top of my head. I’ve charted it up though, so at some point I’ll publish it on Ravelry or something. Maybe. Some day. Don’t rush me!

Dishcloth-Diamonds

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Dishcloth-a-Day: Day Twelve

I took the train down to San Francisco today, for work. It takes longer than driving, but one cannot knit while driving, and there is far less stress when one is not trapped in rush hour traffic, so that nearly always makes the extra trip time worth it.
Found a bakery on the same block as my meeting’s location (Anderson Bread, for those of you in the area), and picked up a kouign amann. I am highly amused by the fact that these things have been popping up all over the place since last year’s Great British Bake Off aired. They are still on the list of items from the show that I need to try making at least once. Thanks to the GBBO, I also know how to pronounce it correctly (it sounds like ‘queen amahn’, even though the spelling of the first word would likely not lead you anywhere remotely to that conclusion).

Today’s dishcloth – Ridge Stitch – was picked for ease of knitting while riding on a train. It’s a 4 row pattern so was super quick to memorize. I am…not sure if I would ever make it again, although that could be due to the fact that it’s got a garter stitch border and I much prefer the dishcloths without that extra edging.

Dishcloth-RidgeStitch

Pictured atop Sherman primarily because I felt like it (and because he didn’t really care one way or the other).

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Dishcloth-a-Day: Day Eleven

Today’s dishcloth was the result of me not finding anything that jumped out at me, so just casting on some stitches and playing around. Ta da – it’s a diagonal stripe. Whee.

Dishcloth-diagonal

I will write up the pattern at some point and upload it to Ravelry, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something already out there that’s similar. There are only so many things you can do for a dishcloth, after all.

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Dishcloth-a-Day: Day 10

Today’s dishcloth is the Magic Stripe hot pad. Which yes, I realize isn’t technically a dishcloth, but as I noted on the first day, my challenge, my rules, and since the whole point is to try to use up as much of my cotton stash as possible, I declare this a win.

Dishcloth-magicstripe

I folded it for the picture so you can see why it’s called ‘magic stripe’ – through the clever combination of slipped stitches and 1×1 ribbing, you get stripes of color that go horizontally on one side, and vertically on the other.

Bonus – this used up the remnants of two tiny little balls of cotton. Definitely a win.

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