Coffee Sock

Inspired by Engineering Knits over on her youtube channel, I couldn’t help myself but go spend a little time in the late 19th century and knit myself up a coffee sock. Okay, so the pattern calls it a ‘knitted coffee strainer’, but coffee sock has such a better ring to it. Reusable coffee filters are not even a little bit of a modern invention, and a knitting book from the 1890s included a handy pattern. Engineering knits decided to be sensible and knit hers from a worsted weight cotton so that it would go more quickly. I am not so smart. I did, however, take a step up from the tiny size 10 crochet cotton up to the 16/2 weaving cotton, that’s something right?

From The Butterick Publishing Co “The Art of Knitting” published in 1892 https://archive.org/details/artofknitting00butt/page/n5/mode/2up?ref=ol&view=theater

The pattern calls for 124 stitches, but as I have neither a fancy 19th century coffee carafe, nor a desire to go back to the crochet cotton that might give me that gauge (it has no other measurements, perhaps the coffee carafe is huge, and my yarn is right? I suspect not.) and I’m trying to fit it into my beloved giant mug, I have 80 stitches on 2 mm needles. Knit a while, then do a row of holes to thread around a wire, then go back to knitting. And now? It’s a sock. Well at least a sock toe for someone with a very pointy foot. Knit around and around and around, decreasing as you go until it’s a cone. I ultimately decided to decrease 8 stitches (evenly spaced) every 3 rows, which would give my coffee sock a very rounded cone shape. I was aiming to have it fit in a coffee cup, not a tall skinny pot, so that suits my needs well.

In working it, and in playing with it for a while afterwards, the pattern never says to put the wire through the holes, the pattern actually says to hem down to that increase row, but as with most vintage patterns, lets you M1 however you see fit. I went for a yarn over, but there’s no actual holes in the picture, and the metal ring appears to have been based right to the top of the hem. So score one for assumptions. They do specify that they are only decreasing 3 stitches every 4 rows, which is why the picture is quite a bit longer and pointier than mine. To be expected, I am basically making a mini one.

I went and dug out some brass wire (in an effort to minimize the rusting of this), but its a little softer than I’d like, still. I hemmed that in, and gave it a try. Forgive the videography of the clip, no one in this house is especially good at filming.

For those who don’t want to watch 2 minutes of coffee pouring, the tl;dr of it.. it works! It works brilliantly, actually. No grit at all at the bottom of my cup, the coffee was nicely strong enough. After it was brewed, it was literally just a nice cup of coffee, no ‘well I’ll drink it because I really should’. I gave it a rinse out with water, and you can see that it’s a bit stained, but it dried fine and doesn’t feel gross or that it took unreasonably long to dry. Pretty much, success all around, other than my wire is too soft to support it full of coffee. Not insurmountable, but that’s the only downfall.

I promise I washed it!

Hello 2021

Hello 2021. I realize that we are two weeks into 2021 but there’s no time like the present to start considering what I’m aiming to do this year. As always, I have a collection of ongoing projects, that seems to be my norm every single year. Last year was a year very much devoted to accepting that plans don’t always go where you expect them to and that allowances need to be made for brains being stupid, oh yes and for the plague.

I really enjoyed my ongoing year long stitch along last year, although I’ve decided not to do the Peppermint Purple one again this year. I have a long term stitch along and a short term stitch along that I’ve picked up although we will see if I still like the long term one in a month or two. The short term stitch along is only six weeks and we’re halfway done already.

Almost half way!

My big plan for 2021 is actually picking up a lot of the pieces that got left scattered all over the good intentions floor after 2020. I got halfway through my plan of doing 12 embroidery samples and so that means I have another half to go. The UFO pile is threatening to take over the craft room not just strictly unfinished projects but in unstarted projects that I would love to get to. The weight of the unfinished ones bring a lot of guilt in starting new ones so it’s probably time to accept that I need to finish or toss the old ones before too many more new things get started.

UFO basket of shame

The main thing to consider in 2021 is the reality of giving myself more grace and patience in my projects. That things won’t go to plan and if I schedule myself entirely too strictly then it’s only going to result in frustration and disappointment when there doesn’t need to be any. I get plenty of things done eventually but when they aren’t what I had planned on doing somehow they don’t feel as though they count and that’s frankly ridiculous. So we’ll see what this new year brings that’s still full of uncertainty and oddness even if the oddness is starting to feel normal. I have faith that there will be plenty to keep my hands busy, there always is. What do you hope to accomplish in 2021? Survival is a completely valid answer.

Good night, 2020

Like most of the world, there’s no love lost between myself and 2020. I have been exceptionally fortunate in that the hardest part of this year has been being isolated from family and friends, and not unending levels of tragedy. It did come with some serious creative slumps and plans? Ha! The universe laughs at planning these days.

I aspired to two main ongoing projects in 2020, as I mentioned last year in the blog, and it was a mixed success. The Peppermint Purple SAL actually got completed! On time! It needs a good bath and framing, but the stitching is done. It’s cute, I’m grateful not to be doing the 2021 version, I look forward to a change of pace. To me, all the riotous mix of colours and patterns makes me think of a patchwork quilt. I am glad I did it.

The other ongoing project of 2020 was the more ambitious 12 samples for the 12 Athena’s Thimble categories. That was going along great until the plague, and then it was stumbling a little and then I hit May. May is counted work. I love counted work! I decided to do a piece that was 4 months of work as my ‘sample’ because I am an idiot who probably was unconsciously trying to show off how much I love counted work. (Still do!). I finished May’s piece in December. It looks fantastic, I’m very pleased with it, but it was a looming pile of guilt for 6 months. I dabbled in a couple of other samples.. I tried Lacis and just could not get my restless and not focused brain around it, which was stunningly disappointing. I made a mess of my first smoking sample, which is normal and reasonable, but I did not react reasonably and I just stopped anything new for weeks. Which is silly, but brains ARE silly as often as not. Halfway.. almost half way really, I will want to do another smocking sample is not bad for the year. I’m pleased with my progress and very pleased with 5 of the 6 pieces. There’s a lot of my own dyework in it, and I’m chuffed. Look for more of those in 2021.

I knit doilies this pandemic. I knit a lot of doilies in 2020. More than were in that picture above. They are my happy place, my comfort craft, my handwork mac and cheese. I knit myself a cozy shawl to wrap myself up in when I first started working from home. I am on the home stretch of a sweater I’ve been ignoring for 6 years. (I really do hate knitting sweaters). I’ve baked too much, cooked too much, eaten too much, gamed too much and lost my knack of road trips. I had a vegetable garden for the first time. We met our neighbours. I canned my way through the great canning jar shortage. We are hobbits, apparently.

And now the year is coming to a close, and I won’t be sad to see it go, but there’s been a slow comfort to it all. For me, it’s been a year of quiet comforts at home, and I know how very very lucky that makes me. I look forward to seeing what 2021 brings, it’s got a giant hole to dig itself out of in the big world picture. Be well, be safe and take care.

Sparkly Stupidity

There is something, apparently, about this time of year that prompts me into stupid knitting projects. With wire. This year is no exception at all. In fact, I got linked to a reddit post about other people who also do stupid things with knitting, and the die was cast, and this year’s stupidity was crystallized into being.

Thank you Amazon.

Clearly I needed to also knit with fairy lights, and because I do most of my knitting in the round, that was the plan. The initial plan was a doily, because of course it was, but ultimately I was struggling enough with the lights that I just did a glorious round blob of sparkly mess.

They plug in via usb, so they can be battery powered, and I knit with anything from 6 mm to 8 mm needles, depending on the minute and what I could find. If I ever do this again (seems unlikely), I’ll aspire to something with more shape. I didn’t try and cast off, I instead just ran another wire through the outside loops and then hung it on the wall. It’s stupid and so much fun. I’m rather pleased, all in all. I might try pulling it into a more interesting shape, blocking is pretty straightforward.. just pull!

Hello September and Project updates

Somehow, the summer has vanished in a haze of I’m not sure what and we’re sitting at Academic New Year. Happy Academic New Year everyone! Even if it’s perhaps not exactly what we all expected and things aren’t quite running to plan, this is where we’re at.

What’s the story, morning glory?

And where am I at, you ask? I’m mostly still trying to figure out what happened to May, but here we both are at September. I am very much behind on my sample a month project (3.25 months behind to be exact, I still haven’t finished May’s project), and I’m not sure what else happened all summer long. I felt busy, but I’m really not wholly sure what I was busy /with/. Canning, and gardening, certainly. Some modern knitting, but .. it’s just a bit of a hazy fuzz. This is likely why it still vaguely feels like May!

SAL up to week 34

But! A new month! A new (academic) year! It’s like being able to hit a reset button with new found interest. I did accomplish one thing over the summer, I’ll share that next time (it’s a gift! I want my giftee to get it first, no spoiling the surprise!). For now? I’m trying to keep my expectations low, because clearly my concentration is pretty shot. I have no urge at all to follow the original listing of categories, but I watched a whole bunch of smocking videos, and that’s a category! (Technically the category is pleated work, but smocking totally counts), so the aim is to work on that in September. I’m (mostly) caught up on the blackwork stitch along, and ideally I’ll keep up with THAT in September, and I have some modern knitting I need to do. That sounds like enough for one month, don’t you think? I’m also hoping to get back to blogging, because I’ve missed the accountability of wanting to have /something/ to show my 10 readers every week. (Thank you 10 readers! ❤ ❤ <3)

100% not a scribe

Know that if you’re struggling, you are not alone. Even for those of us who feel like we have nothing to worry about, it’s wearing. If you manage nothing but watching some videos while eating ice cream? No judgement here.

Perfection

I know, it’s been a while, my productivity stinks at the moment, along with a lot of other people’s. I’ve spent far too much time in Zoom, I’ve played far too many phone games, and I’m almost 2000 strips into a webcomic archive. (Questionable Content.. I’ve read since the beginning, but I got behind and I started back at the beginning. Go read it, but pace yourself. It’s worth it, and the art gets better.) I’ve knit a lot of doilies and some blackwork stitch along and puttered and piddled around and I can’t get my brain around anything big and complicated and I’m not working up to my usual obsessive perfectionist standards.

Some spinning too

And then I was chatting with a friend today, and we were lamenting about the unholy levels of stress going on in that blackwork stitch along group about having perfect work. People (almost always women) are posting extreme close up photos of perfectly reasonable stitchery and you can hear the anxiety in their post about ‘my stitches are a little woobly, should I re-do it?’ And they.. they AREN’T woobly. They might not be up to digital calliper 10th of a mm straightness, but that is, quite frankly, ridiculous levels of expectation.

Then she said something profound and I came to ramble at you all about it..

The difference between ‘doing’ and ‘excelling at’ is one that is getting increasingly blurred.

– wise friend on Discord

There’s been memes running around the internet about this, but today, this hit like a ton of bricks. We, as an artistic community, have put all of our eggs in the ‘perfect’ basket. To the point of most people feel it is better to not do at all, than do something imperfectly.

Day lilies might be perfect

I am the first one to admit that I am not immune to this, not even the tiniest little bit. I’ve been shoving projects into the UFO bin like crazy because I don’t have the patience or temperament right now to work to my ‘usual’ standards, except in my most routine and familiar crafts. My embroidery tension is off kilter? Toss. My weaving sett got arsed up? Into the UFO bin. New craft to try? I can’t even convince myself to watch the how to video, because somehow I’ve already progressed to the ‘but I’ll run out of time and fabric when I screw it up!’ when the (much more than I need) fabric is still in the package! Why is it not okay to do anymore? Why is perfection the only available option? Looking to make nice and good things is fine, but there’s a point at which it’s too far. Where good enough is not good enough, where any level of imperfection is too much. And that’s CRAZY, and it’s crazy making.

The pattern is 8.5″ x 11″ paper. My sampler is tiny.

I think on some level, it’s a thing that we can control, so we try to. There’s so much imperfect in the world, that adding more feels wrong. There’s a level of ‘but if I’m not good at this, then I’m a failure at everything’, because goodness knows the stress levels of existing at the moment are pretty sky high. Even in places where the pandemic is just worrisome and not rampaging. I don’t know how to tell my brain that people won’t think I’m a fraud if my embroidery isn’t perfect, but I think I need to start figuring out how to do that. Its okay to enjoy things you aren’t good at, I do not need to master everything I try. It’s also okay to screw things up. Remind me of this now and then, would you? We hold ourselves to ridiculous and unreasonable standards.

Bonus Muffins

This is a wholly modern recipe, so if you’re looking for period muffins, well you are probably right out of luck. But if quarantine cooking has landed you interested in a choose your own adventure style muffin recipe, c’mon along for the chattery ride. You’re going to want the commentary on the way the first time through, but I’ll try and condense it into a real-ish recipe at the end. Also, my apologies for being wholly and entirely Canadian about my measurements.

Muffins with bonus granola picture

So! I make these muffins about once a week around here, and they are never the same twice. I work by weight when I bake, so grab that scale you got to diet with and have ignored ever since and make yourself more carbs.

Starting with the dry ingredients you’re looking for:

  • 200g flour
  • 75g sugar
  • 75g oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp soda

The flour can be a mix of all purpose and whole wheat but aim for at least half AP. The oats can be quick oats or large flake oats (steel cut oats are no go.) Sugar can be white or brown or a mix. Give that a good mix up.

Add in dried fruit until you’re happy. In this house that’s usually raisins, but it can be chopped dates, dried cranberries, currants, leftover fruit from fruitcake season, whatever’s handy and sounds tasty. Give that a quick mix in. Next up is a scoopy spatula full of jam. Whatever sounds tasty today. This is an excellent place to use that jam that didn’t set, or the one that someone gave you that isn’t really that good on toast. If you’re going to leave just scrapings in the jar after a good scoop, toss the rest in. No one likes someone who puts a jar of just scrapings back in the fridge, don’t be that person. (I’ve been using up a batch of failed marmalade in muffins for the entirety of the plague so far, and it’s been brilliant. It overcooked but didn’t burn, and that deep caramel and citrus flavours have been amazing. I am sad that today’s muffins are the last of it.) Consider how strongly flavoured your jam is and add spices to suit, or just because you love them. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, anise, whatever makes you happy. You want cayenne muffins, you do you.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure 1/4 cup of oil. (Canola, veggie, olive.. whatever) Add in 1 cup of liquid. Milk, fake milk, water, herbal iced tea, liquor you were gifted that you think is disgusting (perhaps cut this one half and half.. I didn’t and those were.. interesting muffins.) Add and egg and give it a good mix up. Dump the liquid into the dry and give the whole thing a good mix up ’til there aren’t dry bits anymore. You are not mixing this until it weeps, just until everyone’s nicely sodden.

Grease your muffin tin, pour your goop in and pop it into a 400o oven for 15 – 20 mins. Peek at 10 mins if you’re not sure how hot your oven runs. Every oven is different, and the recipes that are adamant that you will need /precisely/ 11 mins or the world will end are full of not accepting that every oven is different. Stab them with a bamboo skewer (or knife, or tooth pick, or whatever) and if they have no more goop inside, they’re done. Eat too many muffins, and enjoy!

Jammy Muffins

200g flour (at least 100g all purpose)

75g sugar (any combo of white and brown)

75g oats (quick or large flake, not steel cut)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

dried fruit to taste

1/3 – 1/2 c jam (any flavour)

spices to taste

1/4 c oil

1 c liquid (milk, non dairy milk, water, herbal tea)

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400o. Combine flour, sugar, oats, salt and baking soda. Mix in dried fruit and spices. Mix in jam. In a 2 cup measure, combine oil, liquid and egg. Pour wet into dry and mix well. Pour batter into greased muffin tin. Bake for 15 – 20 mins. (Check after 10 to be cautious). Makes 12 muffins.

FooL 2020

Phew. Well THAT was a weekend. I’ve talked about FooL before (2016 2017), although not nearly as often as I’d thought! Fruits of Our Labours is usually a weekend long camping A&S weekend that is full of hands on experimenting and learning goodness. It was our investiture event, it was my beloved’s first event, it was where I got my AoA five years ago. There’s a lot of sentiment wrapped up in FooL for us. But this year we’re in a plague, and we can’t meet in person, so the FooL staff took it online. (Also.. apparently I’m even worse about pictures at home than at events. Goodness. I really do own a phone with a camera, I promise. Sheesh.)

Now, this is an event that lends itself to online. Sure, we miss out on getting to do things ourselves, but classes are.. by and large.. a lot more online friendly than say.. armoured combat tournies. It’s hard to demonstrate quite the same way, but the ingenious ways some of the teachers had for rigging up cameras to show their scribal desks and looms were nothing short of brilliant. (Zoom crashing world wide 15 mins before Sunday morning classes starting? Not brilliant, but so many kudos to staff and students and teachers in generally rolling with it and google meet wasn’t quite as slick, but we got there.)

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Welsh cakes from the site token recipes

There was a social space for folks to drop in and out of, and loiter about and just chatter idly, classes all day and bardic each night. It was, very much like in person FooL except with no canvas to haul, and comfortable beds at night. Even the recipes for site token suggestions were posted. I got plenty of embroidery done listening to the social space, and the bardic on Saturday night, which was nice.

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More site tokens. FooL was delicious.

That being said, everything was a little off kilter. I had no idea how much we respond to the audience when we’re addressing the populace until we were talking to a camera and everyone was muted. Surreal, utterly. I am quite certain that there has never been quite so many feline attendees at FooL as there were this year. Bardic circles online are 100% performance and 0% rowdy singing along with the whole crowd in the key of army. I mean.. nothing stops you from singing along at your muted computer (which I do often!), but there’s something about a whole campfire’s worth of people singing together that has a power that no Zoom meeting can ever replace. (Over and above the fact that our campfire was a vanilla scented pillar candle. No bardic circle smells quite that vanilla-ey /either/)

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I still got bacon for breakfast. (And Zoom events are like work meetings, garb from the waist up!)

I am so incredibly proud the FooL staff for making it go, even through all sorts of hurdles and challenges. I am so delighted that we got to have people visit from all over the known world, not only as teachers, but as students and bards and just hanging out. Even folks from our own Kingdom who can’t make it out to many events poked their noses in, and that was awesome. (I also nipped off to Artemesia for a class about Viking Food before bardic on Saturday, which was awesome. Fastest commute ever!)

FooL 2020 was like no other, and it absolutely is one that will be remembered.

 

Fifty!

Pull up a seat and get a beverage, we’re going to wander off towards story time a moment. About a year ago, Master Brand and I got chatting at an event. The conversation wandered, as it usually does when we get talking (and often people back away slowly, but that is wholly besides the point), but it settled on the fact that both of us had blogs that were various degrees of neglected and how we both missed having that outlet to share what we’d been working on. So we came up with a challenge to each other. A blog post a month for AS 54! That seemed very reasonable, not terribly onerous, and well achievable.

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Totally bribing you to read with cute cat photos.

It very quickly came clear that both of us were going to blow past a measly 12 blog posts in a year. I’m not sure how many Brand ultimately managed to write, but I was settling into something that was nearly weekly. So I thought to myself.. Self.. how about instead of 12 blog posts in AS 54.. we aim for 50 blog posts in AS 54! Assume that at least a couple weeks are going to be silly (Holidays, Pennsic..) but 50 is a nice round number, this seems doable.

And so.. off I went on my quest. And at various points, I was keeping up pretty well, and sometimes I got off track, but early in 2020 I counted up my posts and realized that I was nicely on track. I needed a couple extra beyond one a week, but that’s not /so/ bad.

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How about cat and stuffie pictures?

And then the world kinda went a little off the rails and things got complicated. Not just in terms of working from home, and getting used to that, but it’s very hard to be creative and productive and to write about those things while most of your brain power is diverted off in other directions. So I assumed, like many things right now, hitting the mark was just not in the cards. Until I stopped and actually /counted/ last week and realized that I had 47 posts done. That was shockingly close to 50, and so you, dear readers, got inundated with three in quick succession so that I could hit my goal!

I have enjoyed this an awful lot, and I’m hoping you folks have too. I don’t post brilliant works of literature, and I never know if anyone’s actually interested, but it is a great motivator to work on things so that I have something to tell you about. I am absolutely planning on continuing in AS 55, even without a challenge from Master Brand. I’ve got some thoughts on new content, and there’s always the monthly embroidery pieces to share. May is counted work, and I’m super excited to tell you all about it. I periodically muse on joining the many people doing podcasts or youtube channels, but besides the fact that I am the least photogenic human, I’m not sure many of my tasks and projects are well suited to live streaming or video taping. There’s an awful lot of ‘and now we do this for 50 hrs while it doesn’t seem to change much’, which is not the most compelling of viewing.

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One last cat picture, I promise I’m done.

Comments, critiques, suggestions and topic requests are always welcome. I appreciate when folks take the time to comment either here or on Facebook where I post the link. Onwards and upwards!

Odds and sods

It feels like a great many of my posts could be titled this at the moment, although I’m grateful to be feeling a bit more like my creative self again. Apparently the whack a mole I’ve been trying to play with the brain weasels is working, for the moment. I was pretty sure I’d been doing nothing at all, because I haven’t done anything especially exciting, but it adds up. I tell others, all the time, that everything counts (sorry for the Depeche Mode earworm), and apparently I don’t listen to myself very well.

So what HAVE I been doing while trying to get myself back on some sort of new normal ish? Let’s wander through the projects littering my house. (As a note, apparently having people over is what keeps the projects from Taking Over.. the spouse is lucky I haven’t taken over his spot on the couch yet, but it’s a near thing.)

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The scrappy side, full of ends.

There’s been some plain knitting, as best as I can manage on the plague shawl. It started out using up what looked like a failed warp in an inherited stash, and now has been just using up bits and pieces of whatever else is in the stash in about the right colours. I can’t work on it much, my arms hate every second of it, and it’s going to be CRAZY warm (I started it when my house was FREEZING to sit in all day), just in time for the weather to warm up. It is literally a triangle made by knit 1, yarn over, knit to the end of the row. Continue until you run out of yarn, or patience. Wait, no.. keep going when you run out of patience, you’ll run out of that early, cause damn it’s boring and those rows get super long by the end.

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There’s been some modern textile collage, which was something I did long ago with an embroidery mentor. Basically if Sharron was teaching at our modern needlecraft guild, I took her classes. She is an amazing artist, and I wish I had a 1/10th her skills with a sewing machine. (Not enough to practice.. I happily stick to hand stitching). A modern embroidery page is doing mini challenges every week, and one of them was a collage, and I couldn’t resist the nostalgia. I’m trying not to overthink it, it’s not a stunning masterpiece, but I appreciated the distraction working on it. I’ve only done week 2’s challenge, even if they are starting week 6, but I appreciate watching everyone else’s work.

I have been baking and cooking.. basically every day. Nothing overly exciting, mostly dinner every night, and lunch every day. Granola and yogurt and candied peel and bread, so much bread, another sourdough starter, more bread, cake and curries and pottage and muffins and and.. cooking and baking has been my standby for creative work when I didn’t have brain for string. I’d say I can bake in my sleep, but I over yeasted my bread this morning when putting the dough together before coffee, but somehow it all has survived and it is perfectly tasty bread.

The mending box is.. damn near empty. Apparently global pandemics make me want to darn socks and patch holes in skirts. The clothes that need major alterations, well they might sit for quite some time to come, but that’s besides the point.

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A wee tiny bit of knitted lace, to potentially end up on another textile collage that I can see in my head, which is generally a death knell to it actually looking anything like that, and destined to be disappointing, but we’ll see. It might end up just being another random bit of lace hanging out in stash.

I’m sure there’s been more, but those are the highlights that I can remember right now. What have you been up to?