The Story of the Sleeve

I bought a kit from Knit Picks a while back, a sweater.  The most gorgeous pattern I’ve ever seen (that I could imagine myself wearing).  Full fair isle, 3/4 length sleeves, folded cuff, scoop neck, and raglan styled.  Perfect.

I started said sweater October of last year.  I got gauge and started at it.  The first sleeve was done in about a month… I just finished the second sleeve last night.  Why the delay?  Well let me tell you a little story.  A story of the sleeve.

After I had finished the first sleeve, I was so impressed with it that I immediately started on the second one.  Got about 3 inches done and realized it was slightly too wide.  Measured it, confirmed, ripped it out.  It took me a few days to calm down, but I was ready to try again.  Started the sleeve again.  And once again I had knitted about 3 inches and it was looking wide again.  I measured it, confirmed my fears, and set the sleeve in time out.

The calendar was an important factor at this time.  I had only a little while to go before Christmas, and I always try to knit most of my gifts.  I figured I’d just set the sweater aside until after my Christmas knitting was complete.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year.  I ripped out the old sleeve and decided to start fresh.  I cast the sleeve on and just had at it.  Measured my sleeve at 3 inches in, and the gauge was spot on.  I was so happy that the sleeve was practically knitting itself.  About half way through the second sleeve I decided to check on gauge once again.  (One becomes paranoid after a history such as this.)  Gauge was still spot on, but something didn’t look right.  I took a closer look at the two sleeves side by side… I had made the mistake of not knitting them the exact same way, and in not doing so the wrong color was dominant.

I don’t know if you are aware (I hadn’t been), but when knitting fair isle one strand becomes dominant.  This blog post made it all crystal clear to me.  It was like a light bulb had gone off and then I realized how silly I had been knitting with the wrong color dominance.  The quick and dirty version of yarn dominance is such.  The strand that is being held behind the other one, is going to be the dominant color.  For me, when I knit fair isle, I hold one color in each hand.  The left hand becomes the dominant color.

Needless to say, the sleeve needed to be ripped out… AGAIN.  And I was in no mental state to do such.  So Alex, being the knight in woolen armor, ripped it out for me, while I found another project to start.

I’ve just recently gone back to this project, but knowing about yarn dominance, and how to make myself get proper gauge, I have a second sleeve (almost) identical to the first.  The real lesson that I’ve learned from this experience… knit the sleeves at the same time!

A Fair Disappointment

This year I only entered 4 items in the state fair. I knew they weren’t very good either, so i wasn’t expecting much. Maybe an honorable mention on my socks (Smaug!!).

The first place my friends and I always go when visiting the state fair is to the Textiles to see where we placed. Plus its always nice to see ones work on display.

No ribbon on the yarn. Expected.

No ribbon on the crocheted doily. Expected.

No ribbon on the socks… WTF. Really? Oh well.

Is that a ribbon on the knitted doily? Holy smokes it is! Honorable mention in the knitted lace category. First, second, and third were all full lace shawls with beading. I’m surprised they even looked at my doily, let alone give it a ribbon… sweet.

I’m somewhat disappointed with my results, but then again I didn’t put as much effort into my projects as I normally would have. (Stupid wedding planning getting in the way.) I also have to keep reminding myself that one ribbon out of four projects isn’t bad at all.  I’m trying to force myself to see the good side of this situation.

The next place my friends and I always go is to the bunnies.  The Kentucky State Fair has all sorts of animal competitions.  Our favorite happens to be the bunnies.  Mostly because of the prospect of someone selling their angora fiber, but I like looking at the cute fluff balls too.  We marched our way over to the animal exhibits and found the rabbits.  There were several very beautiful angora rabbits, we noted which farms they came from and went searching for the owners.  We only found one of the farms and the lady at the booth informed us that the owner wouldn’t be back until Sunday… So much for angora fiber this year.

We then walked through the flea market portion of the fair.  I do this mostly to amuse myself with all the funny little gadgets people try to sell.  The Kizito Cookie lady was there, so I bought a “few” cookies, which instantly made me feel better.  Who cares about ribbons when you have the best cookies in Louisville.  As for my fried foods haul, I decided to take it a little easy this year (remembering the horrible stomach ache from last year).  I had a corn dog and shared a batch of deep fried girl scout cookies with Erin (she was upset at the lack of deep fried Kool-Aide).

All in all I’m glad I got a chance to spend time at the fair with my friends even if we didn’t win anything major.  It was still a good time and I’m glad I went.  I better get started on my submissions for next year.

Beer Review: Incorrigible

Incorrigible by New Holland Brewing Company

New Holland describes this beer:

Incorrigible celebrates the beauty of mischief. Wild yeasts and bacteria run free in our sour-aging cellar, the House of Funk, creating vibrant sour and acidic character in this delicate, yet complex wheat beer. The refreshingly tart session beer will tease your palate with a subtle, layered nuance.

It is 4.5% ABV and is classified as a Sour White Ale.

New Holland's Incorrigible beer
Can’t be changed.

Amber’s review (4/5):

I could count the number of sours I’ve had on one hand.  Each one was something different and I’ve liked every single one of them.  I think I’m the type of person who could be a sour beer drinker.  This beer, I figured, would be just as good as the other ones.

I’m happy to be right now and again.  Incorrigible is lighter and fresher than most beers I’m used to (I tend to favor the dark side).  The small bubbles make the mouth feel excited.  The sour is spot on.  Not enough to make you pucker, but just enough to make you sit up and notice what this beer has got going on.  Bright and sour, super yum.

We actually split this beer 3 ways.  My friend Kira was over for the day and wanted to try it.  She is not a sour beer drinker.  She couldn’t finish her glass, so I gladly helped.  Kira rated this beer a 2/5 mostly because of an odd aftertaste that she experienced.  I told her not to worry, she could still be my friend.


Alex’s review (4/5):

I’m not going to pretend I know anything about sour beers. Basically everything I know about what this should taste like you can find in the official description above. What I do know is that I really enjoyed it, and it’s definitely sour – in a good way.

With hints of apple and crisp feel start to finish, I almost wondered if I was drinking an aged champagne. (Note: I don’t know anything about champagne either. Except that I drank a lot of it on our cruise in 2012.) What really topped off the beer was that the sour didn’t seem citrusy, it seemed yeasty. I think whatever strain of wild yeast made this brew should be harnessed and studied. I’d like to see it experimented with further.

In my liver.

State Fair Items 2014

Today I drop off my items for the state fair.  This is my third year doing this and it hasn’t gotten easier.

Smaug inspired hand knit sock
I am armoured above and below with iron scales and hard gems. No blade can pierce me.

I made the socks a while back and its been killing me to not be able to wear them yet.  They have an interesting cable that goes across the top of the foot.  Its mirrored on the other side.  I love non-identical matched socks.  Pattern: Smaug by Wimpwoman Designs.  Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll in Firecracker Heather.

knitted doily
“This one looks cool.” – Alex

I’m entering two doilies.  One knitted and one crocheted (this will be two different categories).  I figured I’m making them for the wedding, I might as well enter them into the fair.  I don’t expect to win with either of these, but I like the idea of other people being able to see my hard work.  I had a hard time deciding which of the knitted doilies to put in.  Some of the other ones are probably a little more technically challenging, but Alex said the Hemlock Ring Doily just looks cool.  The other doily is the Easy Pineapple Doily.

Crochet doily
Pineapple Doily

The yarn… well its finished… kinda.  I called it quits about mid day yesterday, due to time constraints.  I wound it on the niddy noddy, tied it in three places (just like the Premium Book states), pulled it off the niddy noddy, and out spilled expletives from my normally tame mouth.  Over plyed.  WAY over plyed.  I took a couple of deep breaths and reminded myself that I still needed to soak and thwack.

I put the mad yarn in its bath and walked up to the local grocery store for dinner ingredients.  When I got home, I gave the yarn a good thwack (a great way to take out some aggression).  But the kinks weren’t coming out, it had loosened a bit, but not quite there.  I rewound the skein, and put it in another bath.  My friend drove us up to Liquor Barn because: A. It was our monthly Saturday night in with Disney movies and cocktails.  B. This yarn was going to drive me to drink.

I didn’t want to spend my entire night worried about  this yarn, so when we got home all I did was wring it, thwack it, hung it up, and pretended it didn’t exist.  This worked for a good portion of the evening.  I enjoyed the rest of my night with a good friend and a good bottle of sake.  The yarn didn’t creep back into my mind until this morning.  I walked into the bathroom and the yarn was completely dried (yay).  But it still has more kinks than 50 Shades of Gray (ugh).  I’m not going to let it bother me (yay).  But I will re-skein it, to make it look a little better (ugh).  A couple hours, a very worried Alex, and a meltdown by yours truly, the yarn is now in its final form (for now) and ready for the fair.

Handspun yarn
It should be named 50 Shades of Pink

Lets hope next year runs a bit smoother.

What do we do?

We spin, spin spin.

Ashford Joy 2
“Tasha”

Yes, I have a little fishy in my head singing.  Mostly its just a simple mantra that helps me through the endless process which is plying.  I love spinning singles, I love the final product, but I absolutely despise the plying process.

I’m hoping that I just hate plying this one because of the fact that I’m working on a deadline.   This is supposed to be my entry for the 100% wool category in the Kentucky State Fair.  I have to turn in my entries on Sunday.  Which means I only have a few days to finish plying, soak, thwack, and dry.  I’m feeling the stress.

Alex keeps reminding me that it isn’t a big deal if I don’t get it finished.  I just wont enter it.  I wouldn’t be loosing any money.  The KSF only requires one entry fee per general category and I’m entering other things.  But for me its a matter of pride.  This is probably the most gorgeous yarn I’ve spun to date.  It will most likely end up being a two-ply light fingering, which for someone who has only been spinning for a year and half (in my mind) is most impressive.  I want to see that ribbon.

So for now, just keep spinning.

This is 100% BFL from Mad Color Fiber Arts, colorway “Turkish Delight”

Close up of yarn in the making
Neverending Fiber

I Found It! (Beer Review: Pilgrim’s Dole)

If you go back and read my post, Hunting Season, you’ll see that I’ve been looking for the Pilgrim’s Dole for a little while.  I wouldn’t say I had given up hope in catching this beer, but I had relaxed on the ferocity of my search.  I love it when things are just meant to be.

Last night, Alex (Mr. Gus Bus) let me know that New Holland was to have a rep at River City Drafthouse and that I should come up and enjoy a beer during his trivia.  Tuesday nights are normally my knit night and I try not to miss knit night.  It was tempting because… you know… New Holland.  Although, I’m not fond of a crowded bar, and RCD on Tuesday nights are packed.  I decided that I’d rather go to knit night.

That’s when he dropped the bomb on me.  “Oh!” I hear from the other room.  “Looks like they are going to have the Pilgrim’s Dole.”

Done.

I was well on my way of figuring out how I was going to get there after my planned knit night.  None of my friends were headed in that general direction so I figured its not that far from our house, I’ll just bike it.

Which is exactly what I did.  After my fiber spinning was done I used a different type of spinning to travel to RCD.  Even from the outside I could tell the place was packed.  I had just ridden up hills, around pot holes, and through some not so friendly traffic.  I was hot, sweaty, and very thirsty.  I clambered through the crowded room over to the bar, looked up at the draft list and sighed in relief.  They hadn’t sold out just yet.  I ordered my Pilgrim’s Dole (and a water) and made my way back through the crowded room up to my wonderful fiance.


Pilgrim’s Dole by New Holland Brewing Company

New Holland describes this beer:

A barleywine-style ale made with fifty percent wheat malt, or what we at New Holland call a wheatwine. Pilgrim’s Dole blends warming and slightly sweet flavors with a unique caramelized character.

It is 12% ABV and is classified as a Wheatwine.

Me drinking the Pilgrim's Dole
I forgot to take the picture again… hence only half a glass of beer

Amber’s Review (4.5/5):

I sat down in the chair up on the stage where Alex sets himself up for trivia.  I drank about half of the water then turned to the beer. That first sip was heaven.

This beer has a wonderful dense rich flavor.  Sweet and wheat with a nice clean finish.  It wasn’t overwhelming like some barleywines get, but it was still complex enough to keep my attention.  I knew I should have been sipping this beer, but I just couldn’t help myself.  I knew it was high gravity, but it didn’t taste like it.  Pilgrim’s Dole is a well brewed beer.

This is my new favorite barleywine, even if it isn’t technically a barleywine.  Overall the Pilgrim’s Dole was well worth the pilgrimage.

Beer Review: Night Tripper

Night Tripper by New Holland Brewing Company

New Holland describes this beer:

An abundance of roasted malts and flaked barley create rich, roasty stout with deeply intense, lush flavors.

It is 11.5% ABV and is classified as an Imperial Stout.

Night Tripper
Don’t let that face fool you

Amber’s Review (4/5):

I love stouts.  I love imperial stouts.  I love New Holland.  So I figured I’m going to love this beer.

I figured right.  Pouring the beer reminded me of pouring syrup.  Drool.  It was dark and beautiful.  I liked the little bite at the front and then the malt and roast and chocolate notes hits you all at once.  And I could be mistaken but it seemed like there was a bit of smokiness to it.  I could see myself drinking this after a nice big meal.  No room for actual dessert, but enough for a glass of this stout.  So why only 4/5?  Mostly because I’m so sensitive to chocolate flavors.  Where Alex finds the earthy flavors, I find the chocolate.

Dark malty goodness.  Dessert in a glass.  Purely stated, luxurious.


Alex’s Review (4.5/5):

Dark and heavy isn’t normally what makes me run to the bottle shop. But this beer really stood out to me as an Imperial Stout that is worth the sip and the spending. In fact, the only problem I had with Night Tripper was that we didn’t have my favorite cheese available to pair with it.

I really didn’t taste chocolate the way Ber did, just a little bit of earthiness which I think was the flaked barley coming out. Loved the aroma, but the Magnum hops really didn’t stand out as much I’d think — heck, I had to look up what hops were in it!

Honestly, super great. Nearly gave it 5 stars, but I have other stouts that are just too good to share that spot. This is definitely head of the class and worthy of your attention.