My Multnomah

Soon after I finished off my travelling woman shawl, I started on another project. A pretty little shawl by the name of Multnomah.

Multnomah waveI had tried to make this before I attempted the travelling woman pattern, but I just couldn’t work it out. I’m not sure what the problem was. I was using a lovely yarn in a very pretty orangey rusty color, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it to work. I missed a row, and a few increases, and by the time I had made it to the lace pattern repeat, I was way off count. I was struggling, and I couldn’t figure out why. I messed around with a few things and I forced the lace repeat to work, but then I purled at a point where I should have knit, and things just went completely pear shaped. So, I gave it up. I tore it out. Frogged it, as they say. I thought: this pattern just isn’t for me.

However, when the travelling woman was done, and I looked around at the yarn I had set aside for my next project, I couldn’t resist trying again. The Multnomah seems to me to give a pretty sturdy impression, especially compared to the travelling woman. The yarn that I have also seems to be of pretty sturdy stuff. So I thought I would try again. I mean, I wouldn’t learn anything unless I continued to try, right? Besides, so many people are out there are making this pattern work for them, surely I could make it work for me too?

Peak of my Multnomah shawlI enjoyed knitting this pattern in the end, but the yarn is really what spoke to me here. I had originally thought I would make some socks with it, but I’m glad I haven’t.  I wasn’t sure how the colors and the color changes would look in a sock, and I thought perhaps the colors might get a bit lost all merged together. I love how the turquoise and tawny gold colors play together and it would be a shame to lose this by squashing it down into a sock pattern. And besides, I love the colors so much I want to be able to wear them someplace where they can be seen and be appreciated. This is what led me back to the multnomah pattern – I thought that this shawl might show this off. And I was right, at least in my opinion.

The pattern is Hello Knitty’s Multnomah, and the yarn is Blue Heron Sock Plus in Forest.

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The Elusive Perfect Shortbread – Oat and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about the UK was their love of puddings and desserts. Even though I’m usually quite loyal to my US baking roots, the Brits have some really, really good options. From basic custard, to Bakewell tart, on down the line to something as supposedly simple as trifle. I embraced it entirely while I was there, and I miss it dearly (and that’s another post!). But one thing that I have been trying to get right as long as I’ve known Paul, is the Scottish staple of shortbread.

I never really knew what shortbread was until I met Paul.  And after he introduced me to it, I have to say I wasn’t impressed. I mean, who wants plain old shortbread when you can have a chocolate chip cookie? Or a chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips, or… To each his own, I suppose.  But, like most things (husbands included) shortbread grows on you. It’s the texture - and possible the amount of butter and sugar - involved. And now, I like to make shortbread, not simply because my husband loves shortbread, but also because it’s a very simple thing, and when done well, is a very extraordinary thing.  And I’ve tried recipe after recipe, hoping that I’ll find one that he’ll turn around and say “This is it. This is the shortbread of my dreams.” 

Oatmeal shortbread ready to go in the ovenI know this is a fool’s errand. I know full well that he’ll like (and eat) whatever shortbread I make, even if I’ve burned it black or turned out raw dough. The perfect shortbread recipe for me, is elusive. But, I can try, and so I must forge on and try even more. I’ve rarely made the same recipe twice. Most recently the best shortbread recipe I’ve tried is Delia’s, and I’ve been using it regularly. That is to say, I’ve made it four times. But this time I’ve tried something new - Rachel Allen’s turn on the classic shortbread recipe. This one has oats in it – and I like oats. This recipe, while it made Paul happy, was pretty much a self-centered exercise. Oats AND shortbread? Who could ask more? I suggested it to him, asking: ”You’ll like that, won’t you, Paul?”

I made it up on a Friday evening – only took about 15 minutes to mix up. I forgot about it on Saturday and after a night or two in the fridge, this was a perfect surprise biscuit for a Sunday afternoon. Oh these? I whipped these up JUST for you! :)

200g soft butter

100g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

200g flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

100g porridge oats

Beat flour and sugar till light and fluffy, then add in vanilla, flour to form a cookie dough. Mix in oats and roll into a log to cut into cookies. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden – mine took about 20 minutes.

All we need now is some tartan!

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Dune sledding

I haven’t said much about our summer holiday this year.

Admittedly I’ve been a bit off the radar for a lot of things. If you’re not related to me and follow the blog at all, we went to New Mexico this year for our yearly big holiday. I suppose someday I’ll catch up and share with everyone how wonderful our time was in New Mexico. Seriously, we had a fabulous time. It was Paul’s first real American road trip which didn’t include a  family visit (we DO love you guys, but you don’t need to be at the center of ALL our holidays!) and it was a first for me as well – I had never been to that part of the country. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and as with all of our good holidays we think we should revisit at some point. There are just too many wonderful things in this world. Anyway, while we were in New Mexico, we visited the White Sands area. Paul was only really aware of the missile connection with White Sands and because of this, wanted to drive by. Being indulgent to my foreign husband (aren’t I always!) I of course said, ”Missiles? Really? Are you sure you want to go there?” But of course we wanted to visit White Sands. Not only is it a national monument, but it has some of the prettiest scenery I’ve seen in a long time. Besides, where else can you sled down pristine white sand dunes in the blinding sun?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJPbjOvZ9k4

I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I totally think the best bit is Paul’s cackle at the end – he’s clearly delighted with himself!

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Travelling Woman in blue

And I’ve finished it, hurrah! Here’s a picture of it unblocked:

Unblocked travelling woman shawl

 Again, it’s not a spectacular photo, but it shows how soft the stitches and the points are in the shawl. I at first didn’t think it would turn out at all. I didn’t have huge problems, but I did have problems keeping track of the pattern and the stitches. I have to be very diligent in keeping track of how many I have on the needles and in the pattern, otherwise I get carried away and lose track of everything. Considering this is my first finished lace item, I’m quite proud of it. I’m sure a more experienced knitter will be able to see where I made mistakes, but I can’t. And as they say, ignorance is bliss. Especially in this case. Although, admittedly, I’d like an experienced knitter to sit down with me on it and show me my mistakes. I’d learn a little something.

Blocked travelling woman shawlHere is it finished and blocked - my Travelling Woman shawl in blue. I love it, and I’m really very tickled with it. I blocked it over Thanksgiving weekend, posting a picture to my moblog. Very rubbishy picture, I must say. It didn’t do the shawl or the color any justice at all. As you can see in these pictures, the color is very pretty and vibrant, with just a bit of color variation.

This was a good pattern for me. Knitting is much more challenging for me that crochet is, and I’ve been wanting to try something other than socks. Socks are great, but I really wanted to do something prettier and little less practical. This shawl fit the bill. Plus I had to concentrate a bit more on it and I wanted to see if I could do that. And guess what – I could! I found it a bit more in depth - trying to keep track of the pattern and increases and decreases – but this was a perfect starter for me. Seeing it blocked, I feel much more confident in my knitting ability.

 I like to think that now I’ll graduate now onto something more wonderful and flamboyant. There are so many pretty patterns to choose from, and so much yarn that is both soft and colorful. I’m just not sure what I’ll do next.

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Crafting update

I’ve recently been working on Travelling Woman, using Malabrigo Yarn Sock, in Impressionist Sky. Love the yarn, and I really like the pattern as well. I’m just about finished with it all. I would have had it done by now, but I had to take a brief break as I entertained family for a week. The pattern isn’t particularly hard, but I am at a stage where I need to pay attention to what I’m doing, and that just wasn’t going to happen with everyone around. As mentioned, the pattern wasn’t particularly hard, but I’ve found in the last two or three rows I’ve been having just a little bit of trouble. I’ve missed a few stitches where I have to increase by using a yarn over. I don’t know if I missed the stitches on the right side, or if I dropped them while purling on the wrong side. I think it’s most likely that I missed them on the right side. They always seem to be in the same place in the pattern, so I think I missed it out while doing the repeats. For the most part, I don’t think you can tell where I’ve had to go back and pick up the stitches. I did not rip everything out, but just picked up a stitch from below. I don’t think this is the right thing to do, but it worked for me and we’ll see if it’s glaringly obvious when I get it all finished. I’m really looking forward to finishing this up. The weather here has turned a bit chilly – nothing to write home about – but it would be nice to have something bright and blue and soft to drape over my shoulders, especially at the office, where the aircon is still on full blast.

This will also be the first project I have ever officially blocked. I’m looking forward to how this works. A little nervous about doing it all on my own, but it will be fine I know. I just can’t wait to be able to wear this shawl. Maybe that will make me a little quicker on making the next one. :)

I have a few projects that I would like to get underway and I have a load of things I’d like to try. I haven’t started anything new just yet because I like to finish things off before I get too involved in new things.

On top of all of this, my mother has reminded me that I have a large amount of yo-yos that I should do something with. They cover about a quarter of a bed, so I should devote some time to those and make enough to cover the entire bed. Then I’ll have made myself a quilt/bedspread, and that would be very cool. I need to get some more fabric, though. I think it’s about time to investigate the fabric shops around Houston. I started working on the yo-yo’s when I first moved to the UK. I wasn’t knitting at the time, because the cost was prohibitive. Instead, my mother gave me some fabric of hers, and I started to put together some yo-yo’s. I haven’t touched them in years, just carried them around from flat to flat, and my mother discovered them when she was visiting this last week. They are very pretty, aren’t they?

 

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