Friday, July 12, 2013

Looking to buy new needles, part 2

I heard back from Knitter's Pride customer service. Basically, the set sold on Amazon that was on par with the Harmony needles price-wise is not considered to be from an "authorized dealer"and therefore I'd be out of luck if a needle broke. My alternative is to buy it from an "authorized dealer" and pay $20 more for a set. I was a little confused because I saw a couple of Amazon reviews that mentioned they got replacement parts. I want to get something that will last,  but also something affordable,  so I am trying to make sure I'd be covered. I don't want to rush out and buy anything just yet, but I am excited to start knitting with a new set of needles! Pretty, shiny needles that will improve my knitting experience from now on.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looking to buy new needles

When I started seriously knitting (around the time I joined Ravelry) I purchased circular bamboo knitting needle sets to get me started. They shipped from China, and were extremely affordable (15 sizes for $20). Those have lasted 2 1/2 years now, but sadly, as my Ravelry project page has climbed to almost 90 projects (although a few have been made on DPNs), a couple of the cables have snapped or popped off. More irritating though, is that the cable portion is a clear tube that stays kinked up from being folded, and is a little infuriating much of the time. These interchangeables have memory-free cables.

I have considered getting a nicer set since I am officially a knitter now, not just someone dabbling in knitting. It's not just a passing phase. I haven't had huge issues with the set I have, but from reviews I've read, there are pointier, slicker needles with more flexible cables that may be so wonderful to work with, there will be no going back.

I am not considering splurging on anything too extravagant, but want to purchase a set of interchangeable wood circulars. The two that I've seen that have rave reviews (not just for quality, but customer service) have been KnitPicks Options and Knitter's Pride. Specifically, I want pretty shiny ones like KnitPicks Harmony or Knitter's Pride Symphonie Dreamz (as much as I loathe the spelling).

Knitter's Pride Dreamz Deluxe Interchangeable Long Tip Knitting Needle Set

There are many who absolutely love both of these sets. So I can't go wrong with either, right? Once I felt like I was leaning toward one, I would find something to make me skeptical. I've read people complain about so many things concerning each, despite all the people who loyally love them dearly. I still think it would not only be a huge upgrade from my eBay needles, but the customer service would cover any defects, which is reassuring.

KnitPicks Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set

One of the concerns expressed recently about the KnitPicks needles is that I've heard they have switched manufacturers which has caused the quality to suffer. I heard they were previously manufactured in the same place as the Knitter's Pride needles, but now are more cheaply made. That really disappointed me, because I heard so many good things about them before, and the needles really are beautiful. I had total faith in KnitPick's customer service, too.

I leaned more toward the Knitter's Pride Dreamz needles after that, and they are being sold on for only $5 more than the KnitPicks Harmony set. The only concern I have there is, will I be able to get a defective tip replaced as easily as at KnitPicks if anything should happen? One may complain that there even has to be any replacements made at all, but in that price range, I'm sure it happens. Maybe it just happens no matter what. But I'd rather be covered. So... which set will it be?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gumbo-ish soup

I had some keilbasa in the freezer and thought of making some kind of soup with it. After looking up a few different gumbo recipes, I decided to write down a bunch of the ingredients and just make it up as I went along. I was a little skeptical, but when I tasted it, my eyes widened in a "holy-crap-that's-good" sort of way. Here's what I used:

3tbsp of bacon grease + 4 heaping tbsp flour for the roux.
3 cups of beef broth or 3 cubes bouillon with 14-16 cups water (add after the remaining ingredients- some of the water will cook off, and you will need to add more for a total of 14-16 cups)
1 large onion -diced
3 large celery stalks -diced
6 small/med carrots -sliced
2 med green bell peppers -diced
2 large tomatoes or 28 oz canned tomato -diced
1lb keilbasa -quartered, then sliced
2 chicken breasts
1 cup long grain or wild rice
6 baby portabella mushrooms -thickly sliced
1 small bag frozen okra (12-16 oz)
10 cloves garlic -minced
1 tsp ground bay leaves or 3 whole
2tbsp Worcestershire
2tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp salt (after tasting, if needed at all)

I basically made the roux, added the water/beef broth (and made sure it was smooth), then threw in the rest. The chicken was thrown 1/4 breast portions, then shredded after it was cooked. It was just the right amount of spicy, and a lot of tasty. I let it boil then turned it to medium heat and left it simmering for a good 2+ hours. I'm not sure the minimum time it takes, and I would have left it in the slow cooker if it fit. When making the roux, turn the heat on enough to melt the fat, and whisk in the flour until smooth. Add a little of the broth at a time, whisking, and make sure that you keep an eye on it- if you have the burner on and leave the mixture on the stovetop before adding the broth, you will end up with dumplings instead of a soup base. Yes, I've done that before. You can also briefly cook the kielbasa first and use the fat cooked off that instead of some of the bacon fat.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I found so many awesome Valentines online that I wanted to create a treasury of them.

This last one is dedicated to my husband, who fixed up my "balloon".