Monday, 5 November 2012

Better get comfy, it's a long one!

Today is day one of my second (and last) vacation for this year.  Which, of course, means I've been up and about since 6 am.  The Enabler still has to work this week, and he gets up at waytoodamnearly-o'clock which means I wake up as well.  That's okay with me as I've never been one for sleeping in, but it seems a little silly to get up so early when I don't have to.

Then I reminded myself that last time I was on vacation I had all these plans for things that I wanted to do, and barely did any of them.  I also reminded myself that I still haven't done any of those things, and this is basically going to be my last chance.  This is still going to be a fairly busy week, but I'm going to try to get as many things done today as I possibly can.

First thing on the list was breakfast.

Second thing on the list was to write a new post since it's been over a week (again).  Last week was busy with Halloween and concert-going, and then on Saturday my creative efforts were directed toward making brownies for a family gathering that I had yesterday.

My mom had asked me to bring a couple of pans of brownies to this gathering and I really wanted to make good ones.  Everyone has their own idea of what a good brownie is, and I didn't have a recipe that I thought would be suitable.  I asked my BFF Stephanie for suggestions and she immediately suggested The Baked Brownie.  I read over the recipe and description - which explained that true brownies should be fudgey (not cakey), and should not have frosting (as in, they shouldn't need frosting to taste amazing) - and knew that this was going to be my best bet.

I read the recipe a few times and made sure I had everything before I started, but they still got off to a rocky start when I realized that although I had confirmed that I had the butter, eggs, chocolate, and sugar, I hadn't bothered to check if I had enough flour.  I always assume that I have flour, because it runs out so rarely, but I had about a cup and a half which was definitely not enough for my double batch of brownies.  So the lovely Enabler ran out to get me some and I started up again, this time definitely prepared.

That's what a pound of butter and 22 ounces of chocolate looks like before melting...
... during melting...
... and after melting and after 4 cups of sugar have been added.
After that point I got so excited that I forgot to take any more pictures of them until there were almost none left.  They seriously were the best brownies I've ever had, and if you want to know what they looked like, click the link to the recipe above, because that actually is what they look like.  And then stop thinking about how good they look, and make them.  You owe it to yourself.  You've been good this year, and a diet can't last forever.  Besides, winter is coming, and a little extra insulation couldn't hurt.

Ok enough about that, although I could probably talk about the brownies for awhile.  Now for my other favourite type of insulation, wool!  My LYS is having another knit-along for November, the Storm Fir Shawl.  As soon as I saw this I knew I wanted to make it.  Most of my knitting is on tiny needles with tiny yarn and I needed a break from it, and I also needed to take a break from Christmas knitting and knit something for myself.  The description of it also really appealed to me as it says it's possible to cast on in the morning and have it blocking by the evening, or if you have more time it can be a "relaxing weekend knit".

So, the last weekend in October, that's what I did (yeah I couldn't even wait until November).  I cast on on Saturday afternoon and knit well into the evening.  Unfortunately at about 10:30 I realized something very disturbing.  A few rows down from where I was knitting, there was a blunt piece of yarn sticking up from the shawl.  It looked like someone (probably a gremlin) had taken a scissor to it.  Upon closer inspection I saw that the yarn had started to come apart and the stitches were only held together by a few tiny strands of fibre.  Of course, panic set in and I quickly started weighing my options.  The first thing I tried was to thread some yarn onto a needle and try and duplicate the stitch where it was coming apart, but as I was attempting to do that the fibre gave way completely and I just had a hole in the middle of the shawl with no idea of how to fix it that way.

The only other viable option that I could think of at that hour of the night was to take it off the needle completely and frog it down to the hole.  So that's what I did.  I ripped back roughly four rows of knitting, and painstakingly attempted to put the shawl back onto the needle.  This was very stressful and took awhile, and when I finally had it back on the needle, my stitch count didn't make sense.  I looked at the pattern and at the shawl and saw that I had definitely dropped a few of the yarn-over stitches.  It was much later by this point, and the only thing I could think to do was tink back another two rows.  So that's what I did.  I undid two more rows of knitting which took ages, and counted my stitches.  Finally the stitch count made sense.  I still needed to make sure that it was alright so I knit another two rows to confirm where I was in the pattern.  At that point it was after 1:00 am so I realized I should probably go to bed.  The Enabler had long made himself scarce and gone to bed because I think I was scaring him with my fevered knitsanity.  Part of me knew that I shouldn't be trying to fix it so late at night and when I was so stressed, but the part of me that won out was the part that knew I wouldn't be able to sleep if I left the shawl in a messy heap of dropped stitches.

The worst part was thinking that maybe I had done something to cause the rip in the yarn, or that the yarn was too delicate for the pattern, or that it was going to happen again.  Maybe I accidentally caught it on something?  Maybe my scissors got near it somehow when I wasn't paying attention?  Maybe I pulled too hard on the softly spun yarn?

The next day when I went back to knitting it went smoothly, and when I got back to the end that had torn, I looked more carefully at it and saw that it was a manufacturing error.  When the yarn was being plied it had torn, and they tried to tie the broken ends together by giving it a few extra tight wraps, but it didn't work, and that's why it came apart.  Not my fault after all.

I did end up finishing the shawl that day, but I still wouldn't call it a relaxing weekend knit.  Not the "relaxing" part anyway.  The yarn I used was Baby Alpaca Sport by Diamond Luxury.  It was lovely and I will use it again, but I will try to be on the lookout for other breaks in the yarn like the one I had because that was not fun.

Olivia thought it was very soft and lovely and would have kept kneading it and probably slept on it if I had let her.
After blocking.
 It is a much softer and probably drapier yarn than the one called for in the pattern, so after blocking it still didn't hold the points on the bottom edge very well, but I don't really mind.  It's so soft it's like wearing a warm fluffy cloud around my neck!  Also it means I finally have a neutral coloured shawl/scarf to wear with my crazy coloured shirts, and I can look knitterly every day.  Success!


  1. Thanks for the Brownie Recipe Amy.

  2. The shawl looks lovely, despite the yarn break panic! Your cat is super cute too! :) x