What I’m into Now: Summer, Glorious Summer

It’s no secret that I like baking, cooking, and all sorts of other kitchen-y good things. However, it’s been a gloriously hot summer. HOT. which means cooking doesn’t sound nearly so attractive, since my apartment only has one window unit air conditioner, and it is at the opposite end of the apartment from the kitchen. But I’ve definitely tried my hand at some new things this summer. For example:
Making ketchup from scratch was probably one of the easiest and most satisfying from-scratch things I’ve done all year. It’s so easy, and much healthier than normal ketchup (since there’s high fructose corn syrup in most commercially prepared ketchups). And it tastes amazing!

(why yes, I did make ketchup from scratch and then use it with terrible, frozen food section McCains’s fries. I know that makes no sense. I put it on delicious home-made burgers a day later, I swear. )
Ribs. Specifically, this recipe, which makes the most delicious ribs I have ever had. You MUST try this recipe, it’s to die for. G and I are very particular about buying only local, organic meat from stores/butchers that can vouch for the humane treatment of the animals; so we don’t eat meat often, but when we do- we pull out all the stops. 

 This has also been my summer of sangria. I pretty much have a pitcher of it on the go in my fridge all the time. I do both red and white sangria, and I find it so relaxing to sit outside on our patio drinking sangria and relaxing, I’ve yet to remember to take a picture. But trust me- sangria, taken like a daily post-work vitamin, is good for the soul.

Also, I tried my hand at making my own insect repellent spray using these guidelines, and I had a lot of success. I found that the natural one I mixed up needed to be reapplied frequently, but I figure that’s a small price to pay to avoid DEET and other harsh chemicals.Has anyone else tried making their own bug spray? I’d be interested so see what other essential oils people have tried.

We’ve also made friends with the friendly squirrel that lives under our patio:

 (in the top left photo, he actually has a bit of ice cream on his nose! 
That would be G’s idea, of course) 

Isn’t he a cutie? Although I think we’ve become a bit too friendly with the squirrel- we’ve had to stop propping open the patio door for the cats, because twice the squirrel has decided to come into the kitchen, and once he actually chewed the lid off of some cocoa powder. Squirrels are much cuter when they are not terrorizing your kitchen!

Modification Mondays: Tweed Cloche

Original Pattern: Caroline

Knitter Extraordinaire: Arlette (Rav ID, Blog)

Mods: Although she thought she got gauge, her hat turned out waaay too big. Being an intrepid knitter, she figured felting it would help- but the double-thickness hem didn’t felt as at the same rate as the crown, and the pleats got even more out of proportion. So, she created a little rosette on the side of the hat with the pleats, and turned what was going to be an FO fail into a gorgeous, flattering, compliment-fetching hat.

What Makes This Awesome: The finished result is so lovely, I had no idea that it wasn’t her intention to knit the hat exactly as it turned out!  Arlette transformed what could have been a knit disaster for many of us into what is easily the prettiest hat I’ve seen in a while. I love her version! Project page, including details on how she did the rosette, is here.

FO: Tea Rose Tank Fail

Pattern: Tea Rose Halter

Needles: US 11 / 8mm

Yarn: Patons Cotton DK in royal blue

Mods: Cast on only 74 stitches for the body, decreased to 62 for the ribbing, increased back to 74 when the lace resumed for the bust. Added two crochet chain straps for a tank top configuration, instead of a halter.

Notes: My darlings, I have a problem. And I’m not sure if this is something that is just a given, or if I’m doing something wrong, but every time I try to do ribbing in a cotton yarn, the ribbing bags and pouches. it does not pull things in, like it’s supposed to (like ribbing does when knit in wool, for example). This pattern is knitted with DK yarn held quadruple (which is what I did), do you think that was part of the problem?

So… see how the lace pulls in everything, gives a great shape? And see how that ribbing just makes it… wrong? What happened?! This is not the most flattering thing I’ve ever knit, that’s for damn sure.

 I speedily knitted this up in hopes of wearing it on the recent TTC Knitalong, but no go. I wore this instead. I think, sadly, that the Tea Rose Tank is destined for the frog pond.

Update: Rose Armwarmers and Agathe

I knew that if I asked my fellow knitters out there, you’d have awesome solutions to the problem of the rose armwarmers! I was absolutely bowled over by all the awesome suggestions, links to patterns with similar charts, etc. I can see now that I’ll probably have to do some swatching with the colourwork charts, to see what will work- a big chart can only be scaled down so much when using fingering weight. I’m so excited to start them in the fall! As soon as I come back form England in September, I’m going to get started on them right away.

So. remember when I
was trying to decide on the colourway for my Agathe pullover
? And
you all got to vote? Well, the yarn arrived, and I’ve
swatched!  I don’t think like it. Well, it’s okay. Maybe it’ll grow on me?

I got another colour, just in case:
 what do you

Modification Mondays: Tropicana Jaden

Original Pattern: Jaden

Knitter Extraordinaire: Marceline (Rav ID, Blog)

Mods: So many! She knitted it in the round, added single crochet edging around the armholes, used the top half of this pattern for the shaping and ribbing, and did all sorts of mathematical gymnastics to customize her perfect fit.

What Makes This Awesome: It’s gorgeous. The colour, the fit, the style- this is such an amazing summer knit. It look so flattering, and I bet it’s comfortable.  I’m so impressed by Marceline’s determination to have the perfect custom tank top for summer- the way she used multiple patterns, adjusted her gauge, and really made this her own. And the results were so worth it!!!  Also, you really need to check out her detailed pattern notes- they are incredibly helpful. Full details on her project page .