Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall Baking :: Challah

I don't know if it's the fall weather, or the episodes of The Great British Baking Show that I've been watching, but I've been on a baking streak.  I may start saying "that's lovely" with sincerity, and "proved" instead of "proofed."

On Wednesday, I made a challah loaf, my first!  Not my first bread.  I was afraid I would have a problem with the yeast; I believe that happened last time I made bread (not recent.)  It was fine though; I think I'm more patient than I used to be.  Maybe?  I'm working on that.  The loaf turned out very well, although I was stumped a bit on rolling the ropes - fat in the middle, skinny ends, I now know.  I used a recipe from the Kitchn, here.  Easy as pie. Er, bread.

the dough is "proved," in my grandmother's bowl

four-strand braid

not quite enough egg wash, but a lovely brown nonetheless

It was a huge hit!  It was asked for until it was gone - two days.  We will be having this again.  Now after watching the GBBS, having no time limit, I'm curious to try rye bread.  Will let you know!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

designing knitting patterns, and working on new one

In case you've ever wondered what drives me...  

Almost from the time I began knitting, I've been putting my own twist on projects.  I was reading knitting blogs and joined Ravelry before I was a knitter, so I was already seeing that knitters modified patterns to suit them before I could do it myself.  In fact, this is one of the things that drew me most to knitting - being able to make the sweater I want in the color I want.  In my observation over the past seven years, I see that many knitters make small modifications to patterns based on their own needs - making the sleeves longer or shorter; adding or omitting pockets; using a cast on, decrease or buttonhole that they prefer.  I came into this thinking that was part of the fun - being able to make it my own.  The first pattern I ever wrote and published was a cabled hat, Glacier.  I may go back and edit that pattern, now that I've learned a few more tricks!  But at the beginning, I just wanted to join in the fun.  

Now I'm more invested in the yarn business and I have other reasons to design, but basically, they fall into three categories (in no particular order):  
  ~ I can't find anything like what I am thinking of in my head / has been requested of me; sometimes just down to finding the appropriate gauge. 
  ~ I write patterns for Windy Valley Muskox, specifically for their gauge and fiber - which is not always like other fibers. 
  ~ I teach knitting at my local yarn shop, and sometimes I can't find a pattern that addresses the specific technique I'm trying to teach and / or taking into account the questions my students have. 

A lot of designers write patterns because they own a yarn company or store, or simply because it's their job.  Luckily, that's just not where I'm at.  I've got the best full-time job a girl could ever ask for (wife and mom).  If you're a wife or mom, you know sometimes that means a lot of work and not a lot of credit.  When I discovered knitting, it was The Thing that flowed from me with little effort, and I love this piece of my life that is gratifying on a personal level; you might even say selfish.  When I set off on this adventure, I was desperately in need of some adult time, of something that was my own, of being Karen instead of so-and-so's mom.  So to me, making money doing something I love is the cherry on top of life's sundae, that has allowed me to connect with other artists, explore the world, and help with the household budget.  

Okay.  All that being said, I am working on publishing a new pattern, it's a cabled hat for my beginner cabling class.  There are simple patterns out there, but I went to some effort to make sure this has some comprehensive information.  Hopefully it will at least be a jumping-off point for all the knitters I help!

A few details:
Name - Three-Grain cabled hat
Yarn - worsted weight (original sample in Malabrigo Worsted, Chapel Stone)
Sizes - S  (M, L) to fit head size 20 (22, 24)” / 51 (56, 61) cm.
More info on Ravelry here.

I have a couple of test knitters that are not quite finished, so the pattern has not been published online, but should be shortly.  I will be knitting this again for myself, only with a tubular cast-on - one of my favorites.  I did not use that for the original because I don't have time to teach that in my class, and it's not a cast on class, it's a cabling class.  Mine will be red, of course!