Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Long-promised yarn photos & some recipe links.

Hello everyone! Remember when I went on a fun yarn adventure with my family? Well I did, and here's what I brought home:

Pretty purple handspun wool from the Yarn Basket in Tecumseh, MI.

Soft grey alpaca from the Clinton Woolen Mill -- $3.50 a skein!

Lovely undyed handspun thick-and-thin wool & mohair, also from the Clinton Woolen Mill.

The Clinton Woolen Mill was undoubtedly my favorite shop we visited and if you're at all local you really must check it out. The selection was beautiful, the prices were unbelievable, and the atmosphere was very comfortable. I'm not a spinner (yet?) but there was a wide array of beautifully dyed fleece and roving soft and dreamy enough to make me wish I were. For now, though, there are more than enough lovely local handspun yarns to keep me busy. I'll be back soon! (There is an apartment for rent just above it and I definitely contemplated asking about it -- too bad moving out to Clinton would be far from practical!)

So, last time I posted I'd begun working on a pair of fingerless mitts for E. Unfortunately, we're no longer "an item," as they say. It was very amicable and there are no hard feelings, but needless to say his mitts got moved waaaayyyy down on my priority list! Instead I wanted to do some simple, therapeutic knitting for myself, so I picked up that grey handspun pictured above and got to work on a rendition of the Aspen Neck Cowl. It's knitting up quickly and I think I may even finish it in time for Harvest Gathering this weekend!

In other news, I've been sticking with my plan to try a new raw recipe each week. Last week I tried out these kitchen sink cookies. I absolutely love no-bake cookies to begin with but the recipes I know call for lots of butter & sugar, so I was intrigued to see how this one would come out. I only made a very small batch, two each for me & the friend I had over for dinner. They were good but not great; using that much nut butter for the base makes them very, very rich and heavy. I'll experiment a bit more, though, because there is something just so delightful about making cookies in the fridge!

Tonight I'm going to try a raw corn chowder, so I'll let you know how that goes. Another (not raw) recipe I absolutely have to recommend is this sweet potato & black bean breakfast scramble. I actually made it for dinner, served with some brown rice and grated cheddar. I know I made some other alterations, including adding collard greens, and it was a huge hit with everyone who tried it, plus the leftovers were perfect for taking to school for the rest of that week. I'm certain I'll be making it again and, really, can't recommend it highly enough.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

First food post in who knows how long...

Nearly everyone agrees that raw fruits & veggies are an important part of a healthy diet. Luckily for me I prefer most veggies raw anyhow, but munching on carrot sticks can get old fast. I've been fortunate enough to try lots of delicious raw meals at various restaurants and talented friends' houses, but I rarely prepare anything raw at home besides the occasional salad or smoothie. Starting this week I'm challenging myself to try out a new raw dish every week.

This morning I woke up with carrot soup on my mind and Googled for a raw recipe. This one looked appealing so when I got off work today I spent a whopping 71 cents on a couple organic carrots. I tried about a half-batch just now. I used green pepper instead of red because that's what I have in my garden and threw in some cayenne & cumin, too. Word to the wise: if you are halving all the ingredients, it's a good idea to make sure you halve the ginger too! I don't know why I didn't, except that I was excited about ginger and not thinking, so this has got QUITE a kick. I had to water it down pretty significantly but I have to say the flavor is excellent. The texture would be better if I strained out the pulpy bits but that feels too wasteful so I didn't (I do get to borrow a juicer soon, though, at which point I will definitely use this recipe with it!). I tossed in some small pieces of bell pepper and enjoyed this cold with some toast on the side. I plan to have the rest slightly warmed for breakfast tomorrow. Mmm, carrots & ginger!

Also, behold:

I realize it doesn't look like much, but that is my first foray into cheese-making! Some friends of mine get a 3-gallon weekly delivery of fresh, raw milk and lately they haven't been able to keep up with drinking it all. I gladly volunteered to take a half-gallon off their hands the other day and used it to make farmer's cheese, which really couldn't be easier. I served slices with garlic toast and crumbled the rest into a salad. Yum. Next time I think I will try mixing in some basil &/or other tasty herbs (suggestions?). Eventually I would like to delve much, much deeper into aged cheeses and all that good stuff, too.

I'm afraid I lied last time about the yarn pictures coming this time, only because I feel too lazy to bother with them right now. Next time for real!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First FO in who knows how long...

Wow, I think I almost forgot what it feels like to actually finish a project. Here are my lovely blue Fargyle socks:

I completed them about a week ago and they were lots of fun. The pattern is so so clever! I think some time I might like to re-chart it so it could be done in fingering weight with more, smaller argyle-esque diamonds...but I'm getting ahead of myself. For now I'll just enjoy this pair, which is very comfy and incredibly warm.

Shortly after finishing those I began knitting some fingerless mitts for E. The pattern is improvised and going fairly well. I'm planning to have them completed in time for Harvest Gathering, though I must admit to being a little nervous about that since I just took a whole month to knit DK-weight socks. So far so good, though, and I have the added incentive of knowing there is incredibly gorgeous handspun yarn waiting for me to play with it just as soon as I finish the mitts. Photos of said yarn next time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Many of you have likely seen this already, but it's worth posting for the rest of you because it's so cool: Giant knitted poem takes shape. Can't wait to see what it is! Any guesses?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cupcakes + Lace!

(Hey, this is my 101st post! Cool.)

First of all, if you have extra zucchini lying around (and who doesn't?), you should definitely use it to make these chocolate-zucchini cupcakes. I did so last night and I can promise you with complete confidence that you won't regret it! (Do watch out for overcooking them, though -- the baking time recommended in the recipe was much too long for my oven, at least.)

Also, look at what I got in the mail a couple weeks back from my lovely friend Yoli, who was working on destashing:

That, my friends, is a skein of Skacel Collection Merino Lace in a gorgeous teal! This yarn is stupidly beautiful and frighteningly fine. I haven't knit with lace-weight yet so I am definitely intimidated but also excited. I think the most beautiful lace pattern I've seen is the Seascape Shawl, so I might attempt to tackle that right off the bat, but I wondered if any of you had other suggestions for first lace projects, maybe something smaller and quicker to help me get comfortable with it? Let me know please!

I have made almost no progress on the socks recently -- like I said, having a curious kitten around really cuts into one's knitting time, not to mention the fact that 90°+ weather makes it difficult to feel terribly excited about wool socks, even if they are really fantastic wool socks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kittenapalooza Part 2 (+ socks)!

So it turns out having a new kitten around the house is not exactly conducive to knitting. Luckily, it is conducive to massive amounts of cuteness:

The gigantic ears continue to amaze.

Lucy is an absolute dream of a kitten: friendly, adorable, feisty, and so much fun to have around!

I have gotten a tiny bit of knitting done, mostly while Lucy is napping, and I've reached the heel flap of the second Fargyle sock. Here's a preview:

They're coming along pretty nicely. I also looked through my entire stash the other day and found a couple yarns I'd nearly forgotten about, which was exciting and very inspiring.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


There's a new lady in my life:
Lucille Clementine, better known as Lucy
(Check out those EARS!)

She came home with me last night and has been hanging out in my room ever since. Currently she's enjoying a lengthy nap on my bed. She's here more or less because I decided I don't like driving on the freeway anymore. Unlike most drivers I know I've never really been scared of the freeway, not even when I was new to it, but a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I have a lot more fun when I take surface roads. The route from E's house to mine is particularly enjoyable, as little country roads take me past cows, horses, plenty of chickens, neighbors selling summer squash & sweet corn, and one particular house with a very tempting sign out front: "ADORABLE KITTENS FREE."

Mom & I had been talking about a kitten for a while. Our cat April is very very lonesome. We lost her brother Bam a year ago to a car and Bob, my sweet silly companion for 8 years or so, passed away back in May due to kidney failure. We all miss them both every day and April is no exception. This is the only time in her life she's been the the only cat and she doesn't seem to like it a bit (I don't blame her). Of course, she and Lucy are not exactly best friends yet. They've had two brief meetings, both of which featured a lot of hissing from April. They'll get to know each other better once Lucy's been to the vet, of course, and I have no doubt that April will come around, even if it takes some time.

For now Lucy & I are hanging out in my room. She's been remarkably well-behaved, using her little temporary litter box like a pro, chasing her tail a whole bunch, wrestling with her favorite "toy" (an old rag I had lying around), and licking my hands at every opportunity. Aww! I'll try to get some better pictures soon. Black cats aren't easy to photograph and the crappy camera I've been using since my good one broke only makes matters worse, but I think my friend M, a talented photographer, will be by tomorrow, so I'll see what I can get him to do. And naturally there will be video of the tail-chasing as soon as I can manage it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden Photos.

My garden is doing beautifully so far this year! I actually have two gardens now, much to my delight: the same little patch of the backyard we've been using for three years now plus a new bed along the side of the house. (Once I have access to my own land you can bet none of it will be wasted on grass, but I'm very grateful to have any space at all to grow while living at home, not to mention my step-dad's expertise and help!) I've never quite gotten the hang of taking good garden photos but there's only one way to get any better at that, so here are some from this morning:

As you can see, the bell peppers are really coming in! We've never successfully grown them before and the plants barely seemed to grow early on, so I was nervous. Clearly I had nothing to worry about. We have three plants, each stunningly productive. I think a large part of it has to do with my three fantastic, heavenly-smelling lavender plants, which the bees have been loving as much as I do. The cucumbers by the lavender are flourishing, too, in contrast to last year's cucumbers which never seemed to get pollinated. Thanks bees!

We've got some sweet banana peppers, too!

It will be some time before the cabbage is ready, but isn't it pretty? I love the color it adds.

Sadly, strawberry season is well past. This photo is from June, during which we harvested tons of strawberries as beautiful, juicy, and delicious as these two. The strawberry plants are making a valiant effort to take over the entire garden as we speak. It's tempting to just let them but I am holding them back as best I can.

That's just a fraction of what we've got, so I'll aim for more/better photos soon!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hi blog! I know it's been approximately 8,000 years since I last posted (or 7 months, whatev). School definitely took over my life during my last semester, leaving very little time for baking or knitting, let alone blogging about either. On the plus side I took four of the best and most challenging courses of my life, so I'm definitely not complaining, but I am thoroughly enjoying my summer break. A year from now I will have a degree in Anthropology and Women's & Gender Studies and probably be freaking out about what the hell to do next. I have a few ideas (my current favorite involving going on for a Master's in Library & Information Science) but we'll see what happens.

Currently I am working on my first pair of cuff-down socks and I absolutely love them! I'm nearing the toe on the first one and it's been a fun process. As much as I enjoyed toe-up socks and appreciate their yarn-saving potential, I have to say that turning the heel from the cuff down somehow seems to make more sense and I really like the look of this heel.

Pictures of those socks will come soon. For now I can show you one kinda crappy picture of one of the only projects I finished all semester, a neck-warmer for my gentleman-friend E:

Unfortunately taken right after I brilliantly dropped my camera on the pavement in Seattle and broke it.

The pattern for that was a free one, the Darkside Cowl, and I absolutely loved knitting it. The stitch not only looks cool but produces a very springy, thick fabric. It definitely keeps the neck warm and has gotten plenty of compliments -- next time you want to make an quick & easy gift, keep it in mind!

So, is anyone still reading this? Please feel free to say hi in the comments if you are! I wouldn't be surprised if lots of folks stopped checking this since I've been so negligent. I've also noticed that I'm not the only one to have gone on an unplanned hiatus; many of my favorite blogs seem to have been languishing for a while now. Still, I will do my best to update more often, at least for the rest of the summer and hopefully into the school year, too. Hope you're all well. ♥

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hey blog! I have a hat to show you:

That is Thorpe, made with the pretty dark red yarn I bought in Toronto & some leftovers from the vest I made ages ago. The knitting was very quick and only took a day or so once I got past the initial increases (the hat is knit top-down, something I hadn't done before). I didn't know how to do the crocheted edging, though, so today I went over to my beloved Aunt Andrea's house thinking she'd show me how. Instead she just did it for me while I ate all her crackers, cheese, and nuts, and drank hot buttered rum. What a relaxing way to finish a project! :) I may or may not add some braided straps to the earflaps, but for now I kind of like it the way it is (and, since I left that yarn at Aunt Andrea's, I don't have much of a choice for the moment). I am planning to block it a bit so the flaps no longer curl out, though. The pattern was a bit difficult at first because it starts with so few stitches, but in the end I found myself absolutely loving it. It has lots of potential, too -- there are some very creative interpretations on Ravelry, of course! I have no doubt I'll be making more of these.

Have you seen the new Knitty yet? It's so inspiring! I'm making these socks as soon as I can. I also, of course, loved the knitted wire earrings. I tried knitting with wire probably a year and a half ago or so and absolutely hated it but these are so lovely that I tried to push that memory from my mind & ran out today to buy wire and earring hooks. Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), knitting with wire has not gotten any more comfortable or fun since the last time I tried it. My first attempt at an earring was very ugly and I still feel like I'm about to go crosseyed and my fingertips hurt. Plus the wire is a mess of tangles & kinks. Bleh. I might get the hang of it yet but I kind of doubt it. Tips would be appreciated!

Finally, remember the cookie contest I was going to enter? I spent all of last week experimenting in the kitchen until I came up with a decent recipe for pumpkin snickerdoodles. It still had a few kinks I could've worked out to make it absolutely perfect, but the cookies were definitely tasty & creative and I thought I'd have no problem winning. So I went to sign up last Thursday, only to be told I'd missed the sign-up deadline. I must've looked distraught, because the men who told me that started making phone calls & trying to find a way around the deadline for me. While they were doing that, though, it occurred to me that I might want to make sure the prize really was a decent sum of money, like I thought. It definitely was not -- it was a $15 gift card to some crappy chocolate store! I like gift cards and I like chocolate, but the chance to win that honestly didn't seem worth the extra drive up to campus, so I didn't enter after all. Oh, well -- at least I came up with a cool recipe. I will definitely post it here once I've perfected it a bit more.