Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leftover Sweater Yarn Cowl

Using the leftover 1.5 balls of yarn from my Frontwards Cabled Pullover, I knit the Fresco Basket Whip Cowl. I lurve it! My version was not long enough to cover my head, but it does keep my neck nice and toasty. The plan is to wear this while climbing because I won't have to worry about it falling off me as I ascend, but I've been wearing it all the time since it's cold here.

Fresco is such decadence to knit, and with over 40 colors to choose from, there will be more Fresco in my future. What I like the most about it is that it is tightly spun, so even though the yarn has a gorgeous halo (thanks to the angora) and is soft, the yarn doesn't pill like Malabrigo.

Vespa liked the cowl, too, although she didn't like how it made her neck look fat when put over her collar.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Stash Busting Projects

This time, the stash busting included both produce in the refrigerator and leftover project yarn.

Since broccoli has been super cheap and good, I picked up some crowns. When I was stashing the broccoli in the refrigerator, I found some more broccoli in the produce bin that was last week's "OMG, this organic broccoli is cheaper than the regular broccoli!" score.

Got too much broccoli? Make soup! The way I make broccoli soup is simple. Cut washed broccoli into florets. If you have the stems, peel them and slice them into coins. Peel some garlic cloves, and cut off the ends. Throw the broccoli, garlic, and some uncooked white rice into a pot, and fill the pot with enough stock or water to come up to about 3/4 the way up the pile.

Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, and then use your handy stick blender to puree the whole thing. Stir in some yogurt or cream, and add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes, I get fancy and I saute some onions/leeks/shallots at the beginning of this process, later deglazing the pan with a dry white wine before I add the broccoli, rice, garlic, and stock. Instead of broccoli, you can also use winter squashes (either raw or roasted), carrots, or sweet potatoes. I'll also add lemon juice or cider vinegar if I think the soup needs to be less sweet.

More yarn stash busting has also occurred. In addition to the 10 preemie hats, I knit this hat from leftover Cascade 220 and other worsted weight wool yarns.

It's a boy sized version of Felicity. We have matching hats now, so we can walk our dogs and be dorks together.

To make this hat fit his noggin, I cast on 100 stitches and increased to 150 stitches before starting the decrease rounds.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The First 2010 FO

Veronik Avery's Lace Ribbon scarf was the first completed project of 2010. The yarn is Socks that Rock lightweight in a Rare Gem colorway - this was purchased a couple of years ago at Stitches West 2008 when STR was showcasing their Raven colorways. What took me so long to use this yarn is beyond me. It was lovely to work with, and I have high hopes that it will be durable as well since it is tightly spun. The pattern was also easy for me to memorize, so a lot of it was knit during holiday travel.

Or was the Felicity hat (.pdf file) my first 2010 FO? I'm not sure. This is the first one, knit for a friend's birthday. I finished another one in a different size for me, and I'm currently knitting a larger hat for the boy.

2010 will also be the year I clear my stash. At least it will be if I keep on going at this rate! I long for the fumes of new yarn, but I'm feeling frugal, so stash diving has been my mode of operation. I'm at the point where my stash mainly consists of odds and ends from other projects, so expect a lot of multiple colored projects.

One stash busting project has been these preemie caps. These will be donated to the UCSF neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As a stash busting project, these hardily qualify since they are the tiniest things ever. I weighted one of the hats, and it was a mere 10 grams. Tiny!

All this hat knitting is due to twitchy fingers that are trying to ignore finishing a cardigan. I swear I only have two more hours left of work, but it involves seaming and thinking, both things I don't feel like doing when I'm unwinding with yarn and needles. However, I wore my almost finished cardigan yesterday, and I want the finished project! Badly! So, hopefully, that will get me in gear enough to complete the cardigan by the end of this week. Or maybe not.

Mingus has also been avoiding thinking. Here's my boy not thinking about a toy he just gnawed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On Socks (and Food)

Sock drying day makes me smug and happy. Smug because, hey, I've made all those socks! They represent many knit nights and hours at The Pub. Happy because I know that these socks are worn and loved. It's chilly for us thin skinned Northern Californians, so these wool socks are in heavy rotation.

Before the end of 2009, I eeked out another pair of socks, this time using Malabrigo sock, the brand of sock yarn often whispered about in reverent tones with a groupie following similar to The Beatles. I've been knitting for over 3 years, and I had never worked with the stuff.

It was a joy to work with, although I'm a little worried about their durability since I've come to equate super soft and squishy yarn with holes that I need to patch up. Why would I think this? Example 1: Pigeon Roof Studio socks.

I didn't wear these socks anymore than my other ones, and in fact they are relatively new, but look at the size of that hole in the heel! The matching sock is also precariously close to another heel blow out. So sad. These socks have some nylon in them, too, so I thought they'd last a little longer, but 'tis not the case. If anyone has any ideas on how to mend these socks, please pipe in. For now, they are tucked away because I cannot bear to look at them.

So far, my most durable socks are the first pair I ever made, the ones that almost made me cry because I had been knitting for a couple of months and the figure eight cast on was close to defeating me. They are made from Trekking XXL. I will be buying more Trekking soon even if the colors don't make me swoon and they are not the softest things ever. After the heel blow out, I'd rather have marginally soft socks that are hard wearing.

Follow up report on the pork vindaloo: it was good! It also looked not so good after the pork butt had been slow cooked for 8 hours, so I decided to not post pictures. There wasn't any photo doctoring I could do that would make it look appetizing. I still need to tweak the recipe more because there were things I wasn't happy about, like the potatoes being thrown into the slow cooker at the beginning. I used russets, a dry potato, and they basically crumbled apart. Next time, I want to use waxy potatoes and I'll throw them into the stew much later. For those interested, I made my pork vindaloo based on this recipe.

In the slow cooker now is yet another round of chicken makhani (butter chicken). Good stuff, and even better if you substitute out the butter for ghee, clarified butter that is cooked until nutty brown and strained. I did not sew together 15 cardamon pods as suggested in the recipe because the whole point of slow cooking, to me, is easy. I did double the amount of garam masala, and I did make a huge batch of garam masala that I am almost done with since this is the third time I've made this recipe. The boy is sadly butter chickened out.

My next slow cooker experiment is going to be some sort of spinach dish. I have a bunch of spinach, some ghee, some ginger, garam masala, onions, and garlic. I also have some heavy cream should I decide to do a creamed spinach instead. Hm, have I ingested enough fat lately? (says the woman who is happily reading Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes right now.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ring in 2010!!!

Happy New Year from my party animals! 2009 ended with a fabulous, food filled party, featuring paella, sparkling wine (although we did determine that one person did bring actual champagne), Dungeness crab, roasted beef, lumpia, cheese fondue, homemade pasta, and homemade butter almond and pine nut ice cream.

Note that the KitchenAid pasta extruder is a wonderful, wonderful invention. And so is the KitchenAid ice cream maker. Expect some more blogging about it.

It was hard to believe that just a week before the year's end, the household was running in slow motion due to a chicken poxy adult (pssst, if you haven't had chicken pox yet, there is a vaccine now - spare yourself the itchies), holiday preparation, and a work schedule that was unsympathetic to the aforementioned issues. However, everyone here has nicely recovered thanks to a week off of work, a vacation to Pismo, and loads of reading and knitting.

Reading, how I have missed thee. My knitting obsession carved a huge chunk out of my reading habit, but I am starting to find a bit more balance to my hobbies. I was convinced that a Kindle would solve my reading dilemma by helping me ingest more books during the blobs of time in between other commitments, although I realize that this logic does not hold up under scrutiny because a regular, old fashioned book could do the same. Let's face it: I just wanted a gadget. The other day, I was really craving a fun, quick read during my vacation, and I wanted it NOW. I discovered that I don't need a stinking Kindle because the iPhone has a free Kindle app - I test drove this app by reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I was number 749 on my library's hold list, and although I'm patient, I'm not that patient. This book is total junk food for the brain with fun puzzles thrown in, and while there were some annoying features to this book (does the reader really care that one student is blond and that another had a slightly Tibetan look?), I was successfully sucked in and useless to the world for a day. It's amazing that I can read 528 pages comfortably on a small screen, but it didn't bother me at all. I'll have to try another ebook app, Stanza, soon. I've heard that Stanza comes with a free download of Alice in Wonderland, a book that I've been meaning to read again.

Much slow cooking has been going on in these parts, too. A house elf stayed with us for a week, and he was lamenting the dusty crockpot that he had every intention of reviving. So, he experimented on us and made an Indian butter chicken (chicken makhani) that was adapted for the slow cooker, and I had a revelation: the slow cooker recipes I've tried in the past were gross not because of the method, but because of he ingredients! There's no need to use your slow cooker for gelatinous Velveeta concoctions. You could have a delicious Indian chicken stew, like this lamb vindaloo! I'm currently simmering a pork vindaloo dish in the slow cooker - so far, it smells good. Here's my before picture:

Tonight, we'll get to eat the results and I can share an "after" picture.

The chicken poxy boy managed to make some very sweet gifts for our mothers during the 4 hours of lucidity had each day. He made two, identical pillows using silk we purchased during a trip to China. Red on one side,

and black on the other.

You can't see it in these pictures but he made the pillows easy to slip on and off by sewing a slit in the middle of the black panel. I'm constantly amazed that he can just whip up these things without a pattern. He's only had the sewing machine for a year, but he's a quick study. I heavily hinted that a skirt would be a lovely thing for him to whip up next. For me, of course.

There are some gift knitting items I'd love to share, but for now I have to wait until the giftees get back into town. Soon, hopefully, soon...


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