Monday, August 11, 2014

Outlander Excitement

Did you watch the Outlander premier on Saturday?
I did! It was actually my second time watching the episode as I'd cracked and watched it on-demand earlier in the week.

My mother-in-law introduced the books to be back in 2002 or so. She told me it was about time travel, but that first one is a bodice ripper in my opinion. The "romance novel" aspects do get toned down in the later books.

My mother-in-law is amazed at how excited people are about the TV series. She says she's been telling people about the books for years. That fits in with what I've been reading about them. They built a following through word of mouth.

Having allowed myself to get sucked into the hype on social media and the Starz website, I decide it would be a good idea to try a couple recipes from the Outlander Kitchen blog to get into the spirit of things.

I tried the Claire's Spoon Bread recipe (above) and the Scotch Eggs recipe (below)
Neither recipe was very difficult, but I don't know that I'd bother making either again.

Now, in the case of the Spoon Bread, I might have messed it up. The recipe calls for putting the batter in a 9" pie plate or ramekins. As you see, I used my 8" square stoneware pan that I bought at the King Arthur Flour store.

Maybe the size and shape of my pan messed it up, but it came out awfully thin.
Another issue is the taste. Mine tastes a little fizzy and metallic. I think it has to to with the leavening agent is baking soda and lemon juice. Maybe I measured incorrectly or my baking soda is old, but it's just weird.
As for the Scotch Eggs, which I've always viewed suspiciously (if I'm being honest). The first one I ate on Sunday was very tasty, although I thought it could use some gravy. Actually, I only ate half of one, which might have been a good idea.
I tried another one today and it was just too strong a flavor. I don't know if it's cured in the fridge, or because I tried to reheat it in a frying pan, but I'm eying the remaining two with a little bit of reluctance.

Oh well, my recipe experiments weren't as transcendent as I'd hoped. But the night wasn't a total loss!

Show producer Ronald D Moore was live tweeting during the first showing of the premier episode!
Since I'd already watched, I was able to follow the conversation on Twitter.
I noticed he was also responding to I sent him one. And he responded!
I feel so special!
Looking back, my question might have been a little dumb, but then I guess maybe not since he answered. A lot of people favorited and retweeted his answer to me, so maybe I'm not the only one who wondered about it.
Someone else responded to me that it had to have been choreographed because it looked so effortless. That, of course, makes total sense.

Between Wendy Knits following my work Instagram account and Ronald D Moore responding to me on Twitter, I had a pretty rocking social media weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Shawl Struggles

Back in January I bought the pattern for the Carradal Shawl on Ravelry.
It is designed by Lucy Hauge and is part of her Celtic Cable Shawls eBook.
Carradal is the first one that really caught my eye. All the ones after seem more beautiful than the next. This probably means I should buy the eBook, but I figured I should knit this shawl first!

I like the combination of the stripes at the top and the beautiful cable at the bottom. The size is appealing as well. It looks like a shawl you can wrap up in.
I'm kinda of tired of all these shawlets that are really glorified scarves! If I'm going to knit a shawl I want it to be usable. 

I was sure that I was going to use this soft yellow Ella Rae Lace Merino yarn with the lavender as the contrasting color. Some days the dark purple seemed better, but usually it was the lavender.

All these months I keep saying Carradal would be my next project. Finally, I decided it would be my now project!

Swatching commenced, and that's when the trouble began.

Neither the lavender or the dark purple was making my heart leap. I proceeded to wind and add in several other colors of Lace Merino in an attempt to find a good contrast.
I settled on the fuchsia, which was the last color I tried.

Then things went from bad to worse. I couldn't get a combination of the proper gauge and a pleasing fabric.
To get even close to the gauge in the pattern I had to go up to a US10 needle! That made a very floppy and open fabric. I can't believe it is what the designer had in mind.

Using a needle that would give me a nice fabric, even if it wasn't the proper gauge, is in theory, an option. However, I'm not sure about the math that would be involved in keeping the shawl the proper size. I don't want to spend all that time knitting only to end up with a shawl that is too small to use.

Sadly, I realized I wouldn't be able to use the Lace Merino for this pattern. My mind was a little boggled that I didn't have the proper weight yarn in enough quantity to make the larger size.

Finally, I hit on some alpaca that I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year. The gauge is much closer than I got with the Lace Merino, and the fabric is pleasing.
It is a single, massive, hank of silver yarn, so my shawl will be one color, but that should work out fine.

My only concern now is that the alpaca will fuzz up and obscure the cable. I guess only time will tell.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wish Me Luck

The State Fair starts tomorrow.
In a moment of insanity, I submitted two items for the needlework competition.
For the knitting category I submitted my Miss Kitty Top from the Louisa Harding Jesse book.
It's a real show-stopper and I'll be surprised if I don't get at least an honorable mention.
I finished knitting it in the spring and have enjoyed wearing it this summer.
When I first finished it the fit was a little snug, but the yarn has really softened up with washing and the fit is great now.

For the weaving category I submitted the scarf I wove during my first class using Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn.
It looks pretty good for a second weaving project, which the judges won't know. Really, the yarn is the selling point for this scarf.

I'm not sure why I decided to be brave and submit items to the fair. I've never done it, or thought about doing it, in the past.
Maybe it's because the fairgrounds are right here in town. I don't think I've ever lived so close to one before.
Another factor was the fiber people I know down here talking about it and encouraging everyone to submit stuff. They want to show off the "vibrant fiber arts community" in the area.
What the heck! Right?

Monday was the day to drop off items for the Needlework category. It was a foggy morning. The rides looked strange in the fog, but it was exciting to see the fair taking shape.
I received one free admission ticket because I'm an "exhibitor." I've told hubby we'll have to go on one if his days off.
When I was driving by the fairgrounds earlier this week (it is located near the grocery store) I saw a trailer that implied there would be pig races.
I want to see the "Fastest Swine Off the Line"!
We'll also need to eat fried food and vote for my items for the Fan Favorite.

The Fair ends Aug 16. I suppose that's when winners will be announced.