Thursday, March 29, 2007

Seattle Cupcake Tour, Part 4

"Albatross" Rows Completed Since Last Post: 13, good.

And now onto the good stuff!

If you have read my previous cupcake posts, you know that I have adhered to a format for each cupcake where I broke down the cake and the icing and then gave you my overall impression. For this stop on the cake train I am abandoning the form, the goodies are so delish I have to just gush and gushing cannot be corralled into a strict composition. And, I have to apologize for the lack of photos, I mistakenly assumed I could get a couple photos off the website and ate most of my test subjects before I realized I needed to take my own pictures.

So here goes: If you live in the Seattle metropolitan area get your tushies to Trophy Cupcake & Party in Wallingford and treat yourself ASAP! Seriously, these are the best cupcakes I have had so far and it will be difficult to top them. Trophy offers a range of interesting and original flavors: Hummingbird, Strawberry Lemon, Green Tea and Peanut Butter & Jelly just to name a few. They have five standard flavors available every day: Vanilla Vanilla, Chocolate Vanilla, Vanilla Chocolate, Triple Chocolate, and Red Velvet. Then they have the fabulous flavors that rotate throughout the week - you can check their website to see what is offered on which day.

Cupcakes are available in the normal size for $2.25 and then mini versions of some of the flavors are also offered (sorry, I forgot to note the cost of the minis).

I loved all the flavors I tried and just for you, my loyal readers, I really pushed myself and samples four flavors (not all in one sitting thank you very much). The sacrifices I am willing to make for research. I started with the Vanilla Vanilla and let me just say the icing is amazing! I'm not sure how they do it (buttercream meringue??) but the icing literally melts in your mouth and is as light as air... like a cloud on your tongue (I could whip out a few more similes but I think you get the point). I bit into the cake and I could taste the icing but it was as if it had disappeared on contact. The cake itself was light but still dense, not fluffy and hole-y. A few sprinkles on top completed the masterpiece.

The Chocolate Vanilla was a divine chocolate cake version of the original. again, the icing melted away. The cake was rich and chocolately (according to their website they use Valrhona cocoa and Callebaut chocolate). MMMMMmmmmmmmm....

Next up was the Chai Cardamom, a specialty flavor available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Deliciously spicy yet sweet, like a wonderful cup of the hot beverage on a chilly day. Both the cake and the icing are infused with the chai flavorings so there is not flavor let down depending on where you take a bite. the icing was not quite as light as the vanilla buttercream but I hardly want to quibble with so much deliciousness at hand.

Finally was my favorite: the Snickerdoodle Cupcake (Tuesdays and Thursdays only, sadly). It was mind blowing to bite into all that cupcake texture and taste the crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, slightly cinnamony sugar cookie goodness of my childhood. This was no cupcake masquerading as a Snickerdoodle flavor, this was a Snickerdoodle. The cake itself tastes of sugar cookie, awash in buttery sweet goodness. The icing is a cinnamon sugar concoction sure to please. And, what is that, sitting on the surface of the cake itself, visible at the edges where the icing doesn't quite reach? Why it is cinnamon sugar! Baked right onto the top of the cupcake, just as a real Snickerdoodle is rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking. This little touch really puts the cupcake over the edge. I'm sure the cake would be wonderful even sans icing (but really, no need to deny yourself).
While Trophy is a bit more expensive than my previous stops on tour, it is well worth it. A certain cupcake purveyor in Ballard better watch out or its status as top cake may well be threatened. A few other notes on Trophy: If you really like chocolate, try the European Hot Chocolate - it is like sipping a brownie (I suggest a small size, it's really too rich to drink much). The shop also carries adorable vintage party favors and cards and things that will put a smile on your face and take you down memory lane.
And so my friends, get thee to a cupcakery!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Know I'm Going to Regret This

Ok, when I decided to start writing this blog I made a decision to avoid topics that had political overtones. It's not that I don't like a good political discussion, I just tend to think that these are better done in person where tone and body language can help clarify a person's statement and can help avoid some confusion and misinterpretation, making for a better (more civil?) discussion. I feel that online political discussions tend to get out of hand and I wanted to avoid any unpleasantness on my blog. However, I have to post about this topic even though tomorrow I might wish that I hadn't.

A couple notes before I continue, so that you don't think I am some heartless wench: 1) I think that knitting for a cause is a great thing. 2) I believe that animals should be treated humanely. I have 5 cats and they are spoiled beyond belief. They are all rescues and I have strong feeling about rescuing animals. In general, Ibelieve in better treatment for animals within reason... I admit I am not prepared to give up steak or leather shoes (sorry, just being honest).

With all that said, and with much trepidation I'll proceed...
Tonight I saw an article on the news that just made me laugh. The whole thing strikes me as silly. And let me clarify, both sides amuse me: the Navy's plan and the protest. I am not taking sides. The entire situation is ludicrous.

Here's the skinny: Apparently the Navy fears a terrorist attack against the Bangor submarine base here in Puget Sound and so they plan to use specially trained bottlenose dolphins (and possibly sea lions) to patrol the waters around the base (the Navy has alternatives but I'm guessing this is Plan A). A s you can imagine there is a group who believes it would be cruel and inhumane to put the dolphins who currently reside in San Diego (water temp of 60 degrees) into the colder waters of Hood Canal (46 degrees). There are other concerns (including the introductionof a non-native species to the area but this seems somewhat negated by the fact the dolphins will not be living in the sound, they will be housed in an aquarium-like enclosure) but the group seems most concerned with the temperature issue. The group is called Knitting for Dolphins. They are protesting by knitting sweaters, hats and mittens (should they be called flippens?) for the dolphins and they will be on hand at a public meeting held by the Navy this evening.
Seriously. I could not make this up. Edited: Lest anyone think I have no funny bone, I do realize that the protest is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But really, if I had to write an article for The Onion I could not have come up with a scenario like this.
I have just one thing to add: Should you wish to get involved the group's homepage suggests using wool for your protest knitting as it does better in the water but if I read the Navy's plan correctly the dolphins will be kept in a heated enclosure when they aren't on patrol meaning the garments will be going from warm to cold water (at least theoretically).
Better make it superwash folks- I think it probably counts as inhumane to felt a garment while the recipient is wearing it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

(clever title here)

Rows Knit on Albatross since last post: 12, p.

While the above tally is not terribly impressive once you figure out that is has been almost four full days since I last posted (yep. that's a mere three rows per day. sad.) it does represent a milestone I have been anxiously awaiting and had begun to fear would never come:
The Halfway Point
That's right folks, guard the doors and bring your pets in because the world as we know it is going to end, I am (slightly) more than halfway done with the baby blanket from Hell. I actually got up off the couch and danced around in a little circle when I finished the eighteenth pattern repeat. Perhaps I exaggerate a bit at the implications of such and accomplishment? Perhaps it is my own poor attitude toward a perfectly innocent blanket that has caused this project to take on such startling proportions? Nah. That couldn't be it. I mean, I've only had the bloody thing on the needles since November of 2005, and heck, I took hiatus of over a year on it. I shouldn't be sick of it. It isn't a particularly difficult pattern. I love the yarn and I love the finished result. But it does feel like it is hanging over my head, or around my neck (hmmmm... Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, anyone?). I just want to be done. It's like that one particularly horrible term paper you had to do in college, you had a great topic and knew what you wanted to say at the halfway mark but it just wouldn't come together... I don't know. I'm rambling. I'm boring you.


BTW, I know I promised a picture but the weather has been crappy and now it's dark so it'll have to wait for some sunshine. That dark a navy just looks like a blob without really good light. Heck, we've all waited this long, another day ain't gonna' kill us. ;)

In better news on the knitting front, I have a FO and a thisclosetobeingfinishedobject. I just put the finishing touches on the baby bonnet I've been working on about five minutes before I started this post. And my baby wrap sweater just needs a couple of i-cords and then, voila! Pictures and details of both in my next post.

Let's see, let's see... a little two word preview of a post for later this week: Snickerdoodle Cupcake.

Okay, back to knitting. Since I am not going to make my "finish the blanket by the end of March" goal I should Get Over Myself and get 'er done before April also passes me by.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Raindrops on Roses and Ziplocs for Knittin'

As part of of Secret Pal 10 I am supposed to discuss my favorite knitting accessory but here's the rub: I don't think I have one. I've been thinking about it all day and the only accessories I use with any regularity are my row counter (or counters, I have one for each project), my point protectors, stitch markers, and ziploc bags. I can't say that I feel a particular affection for any of them... Well, that's not quite true, I do love my ziploc bags, they keep me neat and organized (at least close to organized). And I probably couldn't live without my row counters, given that I have to have one for each WIP and I get really anal about clicking them along... so I guess they are my favs.

But I do have a fantasy favorite accessory: a ball winder and swift. I daydream about having these two items, I ogle them online. *drool*

Oh and *double drool* a Namaste Needle Binder
Excuse me, I need to go get a towel...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring?

Here is what the first day of Spring brought to the Pacific Northwest:
Don't be fooled by the flowering trees, the picture is fuzzy for a reason (other than my poor photography skills): SLEET.While it only sleeted briefly, the remainder of the day was unseasonably cold and very rainy. *sigh* I guess we need to cherish the nice weather we had on Saturday a bit longer...

In non-weather related news, here is the latest update on the Baby Wrap Sweater:
That's right, all knitted up and ready for blocking, seaming and finishing. The pattern calls for twisted ties to be added to the sweater as a means of closure but while the pattern is really specific as to placement of the ties, it gives no instructions what-so-ever as to how the twisted ties themselves are to be manufactured. I'm mulling two alternatives: a) using a ribbon as a tie and b) picking up three stitches on each side and making i-cord ties. I'll let you know what I decide.

In the meantime I am working on the lavender baby bonnet for Pooh Bear. I am on the last pattern repeat before I begin shaping the back so I think I might have a pictorial update for that later in the week. I intend to make the matching socks that are part of the bonnet pattern but even after that I think I will have a ball of yarn leftover so I am seriously contemplating making the Amelie Dress from Natural Knits for Babies & Mothers to match the bonnet, using the bonnet color as the contrast band on the dress. Eh, who am I kidding? I'm going to make it, I just have to pick a main color, buy the yarn and cast on.

I've decided for the sake of brevity that I am going to give my Albatross updates in a format that pays homage to Helen Fielding from now on. It will only take one line of space and will be easy to skip over for those of you bored by my endlessly going on about the blanket that won't end. So here is today's update:

Albatross rows knit since last post: 7, p. (poor)
In the future, I'll have the update at the top of the post a la Bridget Jones. I will post pictures at Critical junctures (halfway and the end). But other than that, I'll try to keep it short. Note, that I said try- we all know I am not above whining on and on if so moved (sorry).

Hmmm... I need to figure out what to do next, now that the wrap sweater is (mostly) done. The logical thing would be to immediately cast on for the matching hat or booties but I'm not sure. Maybe I need something totally new? Or maybe I could cast on for the hat and something new?

One last thing, had I known that Moonstruck chocolate was about to be embroiled in a lawsuit with a local coffee company I might not have blogged about them the other day. Or I might have... the chocolate is damned good.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Seattle cupcake Tour, Part 3

For the third part of my cupcake journey I popped down the road a bit to Ballard. I still can't believe how much Ballard has "grown up" since we moved to Seattle nine years ago. You can imagine my surprise when it took me twenty minutes to park down near the main drag on a weeknight. I can remember when it was no difficulty at all to park right on Market on a Friday or Saturday night... but enough of that, it is time to talk cake.

At Cupcake Royale I sampled two cupcakes, the Ballerina and the Lavender
I'm going to start first with the Lavender, a choocolate cake with lavender flavored frosting decorated with purple and white sprinkles:
  • The Cake - The chocolate cake was more cocoa-y in flavor than a rich fudgy flavor. It was a bit dry for me but still acceptable.

  • The Icing - The icing was creamy and has a strong lavender scent which enhances the flavor (so much of taste is scent) which keeps the icing from being overwhelmed by the cake. Lavender is probabbly not a flavor that is commonly enjoyed but I have always liked it. the way the floral scent/flavor plays across your tongue is something I find intriguing.

The Ballerina - A vanilla cake with buttercream frosting decorated by a small candy flower.

  • The Cake - A wonderful yellow cake with just the right amount of richness. It was a bit denser than I normally like; I like a moist but light cake, not to dry but with fairly large air pockets. This cake was not too moist (I'd guess that overcooking the cake even the teeniest bit could send it into the dry side but luckily the bakers pulled the cake in time and so it remained yummy) and had very tiny air pockets which create the denseness that is sometimes created through moisture. Does this make sense, I'm having a hard time describing it which is why I'm not a food critic I guess...

  • The Icing - One word: YUM. This is how I like my buttercream, buttery and sweet but not cloying. Good texture and mouth feel. Creamy, not grainy, to balance the ever so slight dryness of the cake.

Overall Impression: I enjoyed the Lavender but will be the first to admit that this flavor may not appeal to everyone ("you want me to eat flowers?"). I urge you to give it try however. Cupcake Royale does a good job of balancing the flavor of the chocolate with the flavor of the lavender icing so that neither is overpowering. You don't lose the lavender in the chocolate and you don't get too much floral. Cupcake Royal also offers a yellow cake with lavender icing.

The Ballerina is the best vanilla cupcake I have tasted thus far and is almost perfect in my book.

By the way, if you try the Lavender and find you like the chocolate-lavender combination, or if you already know you like the two together, let me suggest the Lavender-Honey Caramel from Moonstruck Chocolate Company in Portland. It is quite tasty (as are all of the company's luscious looking offerings that I have sampled). The truffle is part of the English Garden Collection (unfortunately only available from April thru September, I'd like to nibble on these all year long). Luckily, you can order Moonstruck's chocolate online which is good for me since I no longer frequently travel down 405 to Portland now that I am a stay at home mom. Be sure to check out their absolutely adorable Spring Collection - what knitter wouldn't want an Extra Bittersweet Lamb?

So there you go, two cupcakes and a bonus truffle!

Back in the Saddle Again

Well, my faith in customer/technical support is restored... it turns out that something must have gotten lost in translation during my tech support phone call because lo' and behold! My new hard drive showed up on my front porch on Friday afternoon. We all made a trip to Fry's yesterday to purchase the necessary items to recover data from my old hard drive- a task not to be undertaken lightly or without a full wallet; apparently, and forgive the SAT/GRE logic test reference, but

I:knitting store as Hubby::Fry's

However, if I ever dropped that much in a knitting store in one day I better have several book deals and a blockbuster movie deal as the impetus. Seriously, Hubby needs to compute from the stash for the remainder of the year. He claims that all of his purchases are "necessary" whereas yarn stash enhancement is for pleasure but I think I could live without a wireless rollerball mouse whereas I know I must have yarn for a ripple blanket or a sweater from my new Rowan book. Yes, I am trying to resist the call of the wild ripple but day by day I feel myself weakening...

The good news is that all my files and pictures were recovered so I need not fear trying to explain to my daughter why we have no photos of her first Halloween, Christmas or birthday. WHEW!!

In knitting news, I am almost done with the baby wrap sweater, just a few more rows and the side seaming to go. Then on to the matching hat and socks. I measured the baby bonnet against Pooh Bear's head the other day and discovered I need one more pattern repeat before I can begin the shaping for the back of the head so I guess I am almost halfway done.

And then, there is the you-know-what. The Albatross. That damn Ruffled Ridges baby blanket. I knit and knit and knit and yet I am still not to the halfway point. I'm starting to think there is some scientific principle that I must have inadvertently slept through in school... whatever the opposite of spontaneous generation is. I am making progress but it is taking forever. I guess if I worked on it exclusively I might be halfway done by now, but then again, maybe not. I might have died of boredom by now.

Up next on the blog docket: Pictures of the wrap sweater as soon as it is done, maybe Tuesday... A picture of the Albatross as soon as I hit halfway... it will look just like my past picture, only larger, which isn't terribly interesting but I feel I need to mark the milestone in someway. I've got a small amount of stash enhancement to share too. And the Cupcake Tour Part 3, I think that will go up tomorrow. I know, promises, promises, you've heard that before but now I really mean it *wink*

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ugh. Argh. and any other frustrated sound...

Well, it is official. My hard drive is toast. After three days of chasing customer service a new hard drive is being sent to me. Even before I could celebrate this positive development it rained on my parade again. Eager to get my laptop working again ASAP I asked if I could upgrade the shipping. After explaining what I meant (love that customer service based in other countries) I was told it would be 10 days (!!!!!!!) before I received my hard drive because it is backordered. At least that is what I think he said. My translation skills were a bit sketchy due to a lack of sleep (I'm still not sleeping well).

So the end result is that I am discovering the full extent of my internet/email/access addiction. Seriously. I expect to start shaking any minute. I cannot tell you how many times today I thought, oh, I'll just look that up, or, let me check that in my excel file, or, I'll just shoot so-and-so a quick email. Ack. Ten more days of this. Lord give me strength! Hubby claims he will get my old desktop computer up and running soon however, he just remembered that he got rid of my monitor when we moved so I'm not going to hold my breath...

To add insult to injury, it is likely that very little of the information on my hard drive will be recoverable so it is possible that we have lost the pictures from my daughter's first Christmas, first birthday, trip to the San Fran zoo, et cetera. Eek! This would be awful. I'm trying not to think about it too much because I can't control it and thinking about it will just cause me stress. But, ugh.

So let's see... knitting. I am knitting since the laptop is not competing for my free time so I guess that is the upside of all this... Monday night I went to a fabulous S'n'B and had a great time. I am still plugging away on the Albatross, I am now more than a third of the way done. I don't think I'm going to achieve my goal of finishing the blanket by the end of March but I haven't given up yet.

Progress is much faster on the baby wrap sweater. I have 9 rows to go on the the second front side so then I "just" have the seaming and the ties to go. Hopefully I'll have pictures for you soon...

I still owe a report on my trip to Cupcake Royale and I will try to confiscate Hubby's laptop again tomorrow to get that written and posted. I will leave you with this teaser: the Ballerina may be the perfect cupcake... at least to my taste buds.

OK, I'm off to fill out my NCAA bracket... one of these years I AM going to beat my husband.

Oh, quickly before I forget: Hello to my Secret Pal!!! I'm looking forward to the next three months and trying to solve your mystery persona :)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

This morning's breakfast menu...

Included a large serving of Fried Laptop Hard Disk, seasoned with a bit too much aggravation to be palatable. Ugh. My laptop is only 8 months old and it really shouldn't be having issues yet. It is still under warranty but first we have to wait for someone to email us back about the problem to find out what our next step should be. The upshot is that I will be laptop-less for several days at least, very annoying. I am quite addicted to having access to my email, et cetera all day. I've hijacked the Hubby's laptop for now but since he actually has to work I won't have access to it much. He claims he will reset up my old desktop pc (in hibernation since we moved) but I'm not holding my breath. I think realistically it could be a couple weeks before my email/internet/blog IV is turned back on :(

I'll try to keep posting consistently but I can't make any promises... I do have a Cupcake Royale post just about ready to go so look for that soon.

BTW, is it just me or has there been a rash of hard drive issues in the knitting/crafting blog community of late? Hmmmmm.... is there a muggle conspiracy?

Friday, March 09, 2007

I love it. I love it not.

I LOVE it! The petal bib is complete and I am thrilled.
Just about 48 hours after I started it, the bib was done. Definitely the fastest knit I have ever done (with the possible exception of a scarf of giant yarn on enormous needles). Considering that this was at times a difficult project for me (several new techniques involved that I had to figure out) I am enormously pleased with the result.

Here are the details: Petal Bib from Oneskein by Leigh Radford. The yarn was Rowan handknit Cotton in #203 Fruit Salad. Knit on US #6 Crystal Palace bamboo straights and Prym metal dpns. BTW, I really liked the metal dpns. I have previously used bamboo dpns and I found the metal ones had a better feel, for me any way (and they were darn cheap, too).

One last thing, this was my first experience with i-cord and can I just say how clever it is? Maybe I'm easily amused but the way it came together and then attached itself to the bib was so cool.

So now it's back to the WIPs, I think I hear the Albatross whispering in my ear. Oh, no, that's just my daughter waking up from her nap. Perfect timing.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

When the cat's away...

the mice will... Cast on?

So the Hubby left town yesterday for a quick overnight trip to San Fran for work. And really, I had no intention of starting a new knitting project. After all, I had promised, no new projects until I finished some of my WIPs. No problem. I completely understand the logic of his request. But. But. But then my friend called. Did I want to go over and visit our mutual friend (who just had a baby girl) this weekend? Of course I did. I got off the phone and realized I have no completed new baby knits stash left. I usually try to have a hat or some booties lying around, just in case. What to do? I always give a hand knit (well, always since I started knitting a year and a half ago).

I would have to start something new. And it would have to be fast, which for me means small. I wasn't in the mood for booties so I whipped out Oneskein and Last Minute Knitted Gifts. A quick perusal and my decision was made:
The Petal Bib from Oneskein. I even had the yarn, Rowan Handknit Cotton in my stash and it wasn't designated for anything. Not only that but I even had one of the colorways pictured in the book, Fruit Salad (love the color and the name!). Serendipity.

So yesterday during Pooh Bear's nap I cast on and you can see how far I've gotten. I think I have five rows and the i-cord left. Pretty swift knitting for me. Especially considering that the pattern has some technical "trickery" I don't have much experience with (and a couple things I've never seen before) - joining five pieces to start, short rows, wrapped stitches, i-cord. It isn't perfect but it will certainly do. I hope to finish it by tomorrow.

I want to make another one for my daughter - anyone know if you can get two of these from the same skein? I have a second skein in the same dye lot but I'm curious... it would be nice to get another bib without breaking into the new skein.

And I promise, I won't cast on until I finish a couple of other projects. Pinkie swear.

Is that a plane ticket I see on my husband's desk? Hmmmmmm......

denying me the ball

Just a quick rant (I know, last night I whined, now I rant... bear with me. I haven't been sleeping well and it is starting to show).

I don't think I've mentioned that I am a transplanted Southerner yet. That's right, I grew up in North Carolina. As such, I love ACC basketball. Living out here in Pac-10 territory makes it hard to catch as many games as I'd like (although the popularity of Carolina and Duke do make it slightly easier) so I always anxiously await this time of year - Tourney Time. All week I have been looking forward to spending today through Sunday camped out in front of the television, getting my fill of basketball (I know, it's a disease). Imagine my disappointment this morning when I check to see what time the viewing party could begin and I found that the first two games today (out of four) were only available on Pay Per View!!!??? No problem I thought. I'll just make the sacrifice and PPV them - they can't be more than five or six bucks a game, right? WRONG. Try $14.95 per game. Sorry, but that crossed my line of "worthwhile." *sigh* I guess I'll have to make do with the Pac-10 tournament coverage until my beloved Duke Blue Devils are on at 4:00.

Next year I'll have to plan a trip home to my parents so I can watch without interruption :) Hi Mom! Hi Dad! I know it's your anniversary but can I borrow your tv? Oh, yeah. Before I forget, Happy Anniversary Mom & Daddy! Thirty-eight years - amazing! (or is it 39? Sorry, the sleep thing again, I can't remember for sure). You two are an inspiration for everyone. Enjoy!

Oh, and one more thing: Go Devils!

***UPDATED*** It is worse than I originally thought. Turns out the fourth game of the day is also PPV. Oh the humanity. I may need treatment for withdrawal.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Three strikes and you're out?

Before got pregnant again I was still dancing with a semi-professional ballet company and a friend's modern company here in town (I danced until I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter, then started dancing again when she was 3 months old). The result was that I danced a minimum of three days a week, usually more, for around fourteen to eighteen hours a week so even after I was a stay at home mom I still had plenty of opportunity for adult interaction. Now that I am pregnant again, not so much. I have been searching for new social outlets and thought I had found one when a search of Yahoo Groups produced Seattle Stitch'n'Bitch. It was perfect, a knitting group that met weekly at time that was convenient for me at a location that was close to my house!! What could possibly be better?

I'll tell you what would be better. It would be better if people actually SHOWED UP for the group. Two weeks ago I attended the my first meeting with much trepidation. I'm not particularly keen on walking into a social environment where I know no one, it makes me nervous - what if nobody likes me? You know, all the usual self-confidence issues (Crazy Aunt Purl had a great post about this recently). At any rate, I overcame all those things and hauled myself and my knitting bag over to Cupcake Royale. I walked in, searching frantically for folks with needles. I found, ONE. One other person was in attendance, and get this: she was new too! Eventually a third knitter joined us but I was pretty disappointed by the turn out. Not that the women who were there weren't great but as someone who is trying expand her social circle, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

Last week I made arrangements for a babysitter as Hubby had a work function- I was not about to pass up my knitting/socialization opportunity. Again I walked in to CR and this time, NOBODY. Not a single one. I stayed and had a latte but I had a couple errands I needed to do so I left after thirty minutes. Tonight I decided I would give it one more try... Maybe last week's freaky weather (snow!) had my fellow Seattle knitters hibernating? Once more I had a sitter since Hubby is out of town for work. Yup. You guessed it, I was the only knitter there. I stayed. I knitted. I had a cupcake (yes, that means the Seattle Cupcake Tour Part 3 will be making an appearance soon). It wasn't too bad, sitting by myself, knitting. I needed a break and this worked. But still... I want a knitting group. I want to chat and laugh and bitch with my fellow needle wielders. *sigh* There are at least two other groups that meet to knit in Seattle but neither is really that convenient... I'm a glutton for punishment so I'll probably head back again next week, I mean, at some point someone might show up. At least next week I won't have to pay a sitter.

Oh my, this post is significantly longer than I intended - sorry for all the whining. I will end on a good note however. On my way out the door a small square red object caught my eye. Could that be? Was it? OMG, it WAS a row counter. Perched right there in front of someone with needles. And yarn. A knitter! Looking up at her I asked, "Are you here for the knitting? I mean the Stitch'n'Bitch?" (so stunned was I by the sight of knitting paraphernalia I had a hard time forming sentences) "No," the knitter replied, "but you look familiar." Lo' and behold it was Daphne from my LYS! I stood there by the door talking her ear off for ten or so minutes (thanks for being so kind and patient with me Daphne, I was in serious need of a chat!). She had just decided to pop in on her own, not realizing there were knitterly things scheduled (at least in theory). I walked out with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

evidence of progress?

We might want to contact KSI (Knitting Scene Investigation) but I think I might have actual photographic evidence of progress on my baby wrap sweater.

Ta da! This is the completed back. I have actually gone beyond this now, I have about a third of the right side complete as well but it was dark when I got home so you get yesterday's photo. Too bad for you. I'm really pleased with how the sweater is going and I am already envisioning a second version (heavens, let's not get ahead of ourselves).

I'd like to finish this wrap up in the next week or two. I am "supposed" to focus on the Albatross but I only have so much focus people. My compromise is that I let myself work on the wrap sweater for the first 30 minutes of my nightly knitting session (the beauty of having finally established a bedtime routine that works with my 13 month old) and then I work on the Albatross until I am ready to crash. Since the blanket is essential mindless at this point I can usually slog my through it relatively error free until I am just way too tired. Unfortunately I am having a bout of insomnia this week (ugh) so I am getting to my crash point earlier and earlier.

Anyway, that's it. No more time for typing of I'm going to get to that blanket - I still want to finish it by the end of March although that is looking less and less likely... Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and suddenly be a stunningly fast knitter? No. Oh, well, a girl can dream... well this girl could if only I could sleep.

Monday, March 05, 2007

No hormones, I swear...

...but the stash just keeps getting larger! Here's the scoop on my latest acquisitions.
First up, one skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in Sage. This is destined to be the Baby Bolero from Oneskein. I picked this out before we knew that our Piglet-to-be was a boy. I wanted something gender neutral and I think this is just right.

This pile to the left will one day be the Classic Cardigan from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Pile details: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, 3 balls of Denim, 1 of Light Lilac. A cardigan for my Pooh Bear who hates having anything pulled over her head. I cannot tell you how many adorable patterns I have ogled only to realize my munchkin would tear up at the mere thought of a buttonless neckhole coming within ten feet of her person.

Third on the list are two skeins of Louet Sales Merlin in Caribou. I want to make the Bubbly Curtain from Mason Dixon Knitting for the powder room on our main floor. I'm not totally sold on the color though... I originally envisioned a dark tan or a medium brown for the room... this is very dark but the other choice in the brown family at my lys was too light. I might see if another shop in town has a different selection or if they carry the Euroflax specified in the pattern. Still ruminating on this one...

Let's see... what to look at next. What? You thought I must be done by now. Oh, no. When I enhance I go all out. Well, at least on this occasion (can you say gift certificate?).
Ah yes. The pile of sherbet-y goodness! Just looking at the colors makes me yearn for a warm day, a spoon, and a container of rainbow sherbet. Yummy looking Cottonade in Kiwi, Petal Pink, Petal Blue, Pink (the darker/brighter one), Petal Yellow and Cantaloupe. I intend this for the Cot Blanket from Natural Knits for Babies & Moms, the colors match the new color scheme we plan for my daughter's room. Now I know that I have been moaning & groaning about my current blanket project, affectionately dubbed The Albatross, but this is different. Really. The blanket is knit in squares not one big thing so I think it will be much more pleasant. Just no one mention the seaming word ok? I am very happy in my delusional bubble with my sherbet, thank you very much.

Hang in there. We are almost to the end, only two more I promise.

Yup. The ubiquitous Sugar and Cream. Given that I am expecting a baby in July could it possible a Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono? I think so. I don't have the color in my spreadsheet and I am too lazy to walk up two flights to check on it so you'll have to wait until I cast on to know for sure. (don't hold your breath... it could be months before this gets done)

And finally, last but not least, my Bunny Hop
from Crystal Palace Yarns. This is the same yarn I am using for the Royal Baby Set I posted about last week but in a different colorway. I think it is going to be a hat but I'm not sure yet. Waiting for divine inspiration or something...

22 skeins of new yarn intended for 6 new projects. That ought to keep me busy for a while. Shhhh... don't mention the five WIPs I already have- I'd love to cast on for something new but I don't dare. (yet) I'd best run and get some work done on the Albatross or all of the above fiber goodness will languish and we certainly can't have that!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Seattle Cupcake Tour, Part 2

Last week, I found myself at a local mall and what should thrust itself in front of me, demanding the full attention of my taste buds? New York Cupcakes. And thus, I have the second installment of my buttercream infused journey through the landscape of Seattle's cupcake purveyors.

I agonized over my flavor choices (so many and I am weak)... I decided that in the spirit of comparing apples to apples I would definitely try the white cake with vanilla icing to see how the Starbucks cupcake stood up to this latest entry in the cake stakes. But, I decided that I would also try one (or two) of NYC's specialty flavors to see what it was like. In the end I picked Vanilla Bean Dream, The Don Cappuccino, and the NY Black & White. Three cupcakes. The lengths I will go to in order to bring you critical cupcake information know no bounds.
Left to Right: NY Black & White, Don Cappuccino & Vanilla Bean Dream

  1. New York Black & White - This is NYC's signature cupcake. The cake is half white and half chocolate cake and sports a chocolate buttercream frosting garnished with a milk and white chocolate straw.
    • The Cake - The chocolate cake half of this cake is far superior to the white cake. I found it rich and fudgy (in taste, not texture). The white cake was nice but not as rich tasting as I prefer (generally I like my cakes to lean more towards a yellow cake than white). Both cakes were moist and dense without being heavy.
    • The Icing - If you like your chocolate icing fudgy tasting (like those made with melted chocolate) you may be disappointed by this icing. I, on the other hand, found this icing delectable. It was a delicate chocolate flavor (I'm guessing they use cocoa powder) that maintained the underlying buttery-ness inherent in a buttercream. It was also wonderfully light and melted on my tongue. Yum.
  2. The Don Cappuccino - A white cake with cappuccino frosting, garnished with a coffee bean.
    • The Cake - The same basic white cake as in the NY B&W above, so adequate but not outstanding.
    • The Icing - Well, I live in Seattle so I like coffee, ergo, I like this icing. A nice strong coffee flavor (if you are one of those people who likes her sugar and cream with some coffee to flavor it, you might find it a bit much). Like the chocolate buttercream, the icing was smooth, creamy and light.
  3. Vanilla Bean Dream - This is a white cake with vanilla bean buttercream frosting garnished with a small piece of waffle cone.
    • The Cake - Same white cake, same story.
    • The Icing - Like the Starbucks cake I sampled last time, this vanilla buttercream also displayed the telltale bean "specks". Unlike the Starbucks icing, this one had a richness to it that gave my mouth a treat. I could taste the vanilla but it didn't "flatten" the flavor to one note, the underlying butter nature was maintained.
My Overall Impression: I would love to have the Vanilla Starbucks cupcake with the Vanilla Bean Dream icing from New York Cupcakes. That would be an almost perfect vanilla cupcake specimen (for me at least). As it is, I would stick to the chocolate cupcakes next time I visit NYC but I would go with any flavor icing since I found all three I tried to be quite tasty. If I had to pick my favorite from the three I tried on this trip it would be the New York Black and White without hesitation.

So there you have it, two down and at least two to go... I am on the lookout for additional cupcakes that need "testing" so let me know if you have any suggestions.

On the knitting front, since this is, ostensibly, a knitting blog, I am still knitting. Unfortunately, I am still plugging away on The Albatross (I'll never describe a baby blanket as small again). I am making progress but at sloth-like pace and I don't want to bore you with nearly identical photos of the blanket in progress so I'll hold off on that until it is at least halfway complete. I am also trying to squeeze in a few rows on my baby wrap sweater so hopefully I'll have something to show soon.

When The Albatross is complete I'll have to work on some smaller projects so I can take more photos and at least try to fake being entertaining. Until next we meet, vive le buttercream!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Secret Pal 10 Questionnaire

Yup. I'm participating in SP10 - my first time and I am really excited! My husband is mumbling something like, "...crazy whacko knitters..." Here's my info:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I really like knitting with alpaca and with cotton… Since I am a relatively new knitter I don’t have that much experience with various fibers and I have been reluctant to use wool because I can’t wear wool directly next to my skin without itching like crazy. I did recently knit a hat from Aurora 8 merino wool without incident, however, so maybe there is hope.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

At the moment, a lovely Ziploc bag. Tres Classy.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I have been knitting for about a year and a half with almost a year hiatus during that time. I took several Learn to Knit classes while I was pregnant with my daughter. I’d consider myself an advanced beginner to low intermediate. I routinely take project knitting classes and I don’t mind asking for help so I can tackle higher level projects.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have an amazon wish list

5. What's your favorite scent?

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Under normal circumstances I have a more savory than sweet tooth, HOWEVER! I am pregnant so all bets are off and I want way more sweets than usual. A favorite candy? Combinations of chocolate and caramel. I am really digging the Nestle Crunch with Caramel right now.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I cross-stitch. I dabble in other crafty things (scrapbooking and crochet for instance). I want to learn to sew. I am looking for a needle felting class and one of these days I’d like to tackle dying my own yarn. No spinning yet. But I’m not ruling it out.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like all kinds of music. Really. Hip hop to opera. The only things I really can’t tolerate are heavy metal (the current crop of “artists”- I really like the old 80’s big hair bands), super electronic sounding techno & overly sappy easy listening (think Celine Deion – sorry!)

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

My favorite color is pink followed very closely by red. I’ve been really into wearing shades of green and I love wearing brown. I am not too keen on yellow.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am married with one daughter and a new little one coming our way in mid-July (a boy). We have five cats which is a bit eccentric but it works for us J

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Mostly Scarves or mittens. It rarely gets cold enough for a hat but I have been known to sport a fashion hat on occasion. I do wear ponchos on occasion.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I have knit a fair number of baby things: booties & hats mostly. I am currently tackling my first baby sweater. Still learning so I don’t have a favorite thing yet really.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A baby blanket (bane of my existence- slow and, at this point, boring!), a baby sweater, a baby bonnet, and a scarf.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Yes. I like giving handmade gifts so it would be awkward if I didn’t like receiving them.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I prefer circulars (addi Turbo). If I am using straight needles I use bamboo. I do not like bamboo circulars.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

I wish! I’m thinking of asking Santa next Christmas.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

My oldest knitting UFO is the baby blanket mentioned above. I started it in November of 2005. My oldest general UFO is a cross-stitch project I started for my husband (a picture of an “old fashioned” golfer) about ten or eleven years ago. I may have to finish it because recently he has been giving me a ton of grief about it.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I think I’d have to say Christmas though I also get a big kick out of decorating for Halloween and Easter. My mom decorated for most holidays so I do the same.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Sheep. It started when my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Scotland and he bought me a small stuffed sheep.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Fitted Knits, any Debbie Bliss baby book (except Baby Cashmerino which I already have). Trekking in colorway #126 (pink, brown and cream)- I can’t knit socks yet but I want it just in case! No subscriptions yet.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Intarsia. And I need to get better with Fair Isle I’ve only done one small project thus far).

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I want to be a sock knitter. It is on my list of things to do. I wear a size 6.5 to seven (sorry, no tape measure handy!).

23. When is your birthday?

December 11

I can't wait for the fun to start :)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Can I see that calendar?

Happy Thursday, y'all! I have to tell you I am embarrassed to say it took me 45 minutes this morning to realize today was Thursday and not Friday... I woke up and thought, "Friday. Got to get Pooh Bear up so we can make the mom's group meeting at ten. Keep moving. Parking will not be easy. Let's get going..." On this went for 45 minutes while I changed and dressed Pooh Bear and fed her a bottle and some breakfast. As I raced around to try to make my hair look presentable, it hit me. NOT Friday. Thursday. While a relaxing thought at the time, all it really means is that I get to repeat the whole procedure tomorrow. I enjoy my group but I am not a morning person (and neither is Pooh Bear) so the need to be somewhere on time before eleven is somewhat stress inducing.

I thought I would have some knitting related content today (stash enhancement pictures) but alas, by the time we returned from our errands the sun was gone and the chances of my getting a good picture was nil so... maybe tomorrow?

In other news, the Seattle Cupcake Tour will resume tomorrow with a report on New York Cupcakes. I know, I promised Cupcake Royale but my plans didn't work out as I thought they would and NYC just showed up in my path one day and really, "least Resistance" and all that.

And one last note before my daughter wakes up from her nap (type faster, type faster!). I want to send a big thank you to Melissa who became my first "official commenter" earlier today. I feel so proud that someone out there liked what I wrote (driveled on) about enough to take the time to leave me a sweet nothing! *grin* Melissa, I'd send you an email thanking you but Blogger is being weird and I can see your profile but not your address... oh well. One more thing to add to my "Things to Figure out How to Do with this Darn Blag" list.