Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Knitting with silk--or not.

I tried, I really did. Several stitch patterns, several gauges, over an entire day--and I just can't make it happen. I wanted to love this yarn--I dyed it at Knot Hysteria last year--but I just can't make myself love knitting with 100% silk.

Silk  One thing I can pass on about knitting with silk yarn--don't try to wind it on a ball winder. Experts say it will slip off the cake and get stuck in the gears of your ball winder. I hate when that happens! For once, I listened to someone who knows more than I do (that would be everybody who's ever knitted with silk yarn).

The photo of the ball and swatch is actually closer to the true colors--soft silvery gray and pink.

On a brighter note, my Garden Patch Hats are featured in an Etsy Treasury today. I'm thrilled and honored! Here are the linkies.



Check out Etsy, if you haven't already. It's fabulous, and not just because I have a shop there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My new Thanksgiving short-cut: Kosher turkey!

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. Even though my Thanksgiving food prep time and amounts were drastically cut this year, I was still too lazy slammed to blog.

For the past few years, I've been cooking my turkey on our gas grill. I love this method. The turkey always turns out juicy and delicious but you really do have to brine it, otherwise you get sawdust turkey. Until now. Since I forgot to put myself on the list for an organic turkey at Vitamin Cottage, I ended up going to Whole Foods, which is where I found the kosher turkey. Oy vey, this bird was pricey, but so worth it! It's kinda sorta already brined via the way it's slaughtered and cleaned. I suppose you could go ahead and brine it, but I was afraid it would end up with an ankle-swelling amount of salt, so I took a chance and grilled it as-is--I just slathered this bad boy in lots of oil, stuck some chunky mirepoix inside and let the magic of the grill take over. We were not disappointed.

Along side the turkey, I served mashed potatoes, because you have to, you just have to. Also, roasted beets, carrots and parsnips, and my world famous dressing. It's got potato bread croutons, crumbled corn bread, toasted pecans, and dried chanterelles among other things. I usually add some sausage, but in an effort to make the meal less of a heart attack-inducing event I skipped it and it was just fine. I also didn't make any bread, because I was finally able to convince myself that dressing IS bread. No need for another one.

Instead of pie (OMG, never thought I'd ever use that phrase) I served this:

I crumbled a few gingersnaps to layer a la parfait-style, sprinkled on a few toasted pecan pieces, and topped it with waaaay less whipped cream than what the recipe called for. Oh yeah. THIS is a keeper.

You may have noticed the Etsy thingie at the top right-hand corner of this blog. I am now officially obliged to knit my fingers to the bone in the hopes of actually making a little money off my craft. Please visit my Etsy page if you get a chance. Sometime soon I will offer a couple of the patterns here and on Ravelry. I'm arranging for a test knitter now and will have the patterns once-overed by a tech editor. That should take care of ANY profit I make on Etsy. Gotta love capitalism!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pimp my cast-on!

Knitters--when's the last time you used a cast-on other than your go-to, can do it with your eyes closed cast-on? For me, that would be the long-tail cast-on. I worked damn hard to learn the thing, and I really can do it with my eyes closed, but seriously, is that a good enough reason to start every knitted project with a long-tail cast-on? That's like drinking nothing but chardonnay, no matter what you're eating. Think of how much better that 7-11 burrito would taste with a gutsy Cabernet instead. Branch out, people!

Last year I took a class from Ann Budd. It was all about casting on and binding off, and nothing but. Here's the binder of samples we put together in class:

Some of the cast-ons are pretty intense, and my sampler binder isn't always enough help. In those cases, I resort to Youtube videos, Ravelry, and blogs. I don't even want to think about knitting without them. I know some people think they're a crutch, but I wasn't born with a silver cable needle in my mouth. I'll take help from wherever I can get it. I also have a plethora of books that I really need to make better use of. I don't spend enough time just paging through them, picking up ideas and inspiration.

This is a ribbing that I cast on using a tubular crochet cast-on. I'm not talking about crocheting a chain and picking up the bumps for a provisional cast-on. This one is way more intense, but as you can see, it makes a very tailored edge, and I think well worth the extra time and work.

Here's the best link I've found for this particular cast-on. Romi, you are a genius! I'm promising myself that my next pair of cuff down socks is going to start with this cast-on. Cast-ons like this take your knitting to the next level. There's nothing wrong with the good old long-tail, and there are still plenty of times when it's appropriate, but sometimes you just have to walk on the wild side.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Pasta with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and
hazelnut brown butter

I recently had lunch with a group of food bloggers. Yeah, I know. Crazy. It could have been intimidating--these are accomplished with-it women and trust me, they all have it going on food-wise. But I really had a great time. Good food, good company. How can you go wrong? Plus, one of them baked me a cake. And I got a parking spot right in front of the restaurant! Took me an hour and a half to figure out how to get the parking kiosk thingie to spit out a ticket, but at least I didn't end up putting an entire block's worth of parking on my credit card. I hope.

We introduced ourselves to each other (some of us had never met) and we talked about our blogs--how long we'd been blogging, what got us started, where we saw it all going. Andrea's blog has a food anthropology vibe and a delicious-sounding recipe for cranberry ketchup that I WILL make for Thanksgiving. Lea Ann has been featured in Cook Eat Share, and has a great curry recipe on her blog right now. Carter is brilliant and funny and promised me some of her spiced bourbon. Last but not least, Kirsten, who organized the lunch and can bake a cake (and anything else) like nobody's business.

Our blogs and lives are very different from each other's but we agreed on one thing: Giada De Laurentiis can't possibly eat her own food. My lunch mates also think her boobs are man-made, but since I'm mammarily challenged and have no frame of reference, I vote they're real.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

War and Peace, JelliDonut-style

I'm not into writing long blog posts. Unless you're one of "the names," your missive will just get a dismissive once-over, and all the blood, sweat and tears will be wasted. Not that I'd blame you--if I can barely find the time to write a blog post, why the hell would I expect you to have the time to read War and Peace à la JelliDonut? To that end, here's the Reader's Digest version of why I've been a little scarce in these parts lately.

"I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry."

"I'll never get into college, and I'll never be a doctor, and I'll end up homeless and a failure!"

"We can get you in next month."

"You ARE going to chaperon, aren't you?"

But wait! There's more!

I've been knitting. And I've actually FINISHED things, many things, specifically, many hats. ('Many' being a relative term, I expect those of you who knit in their sleep not to laugh. You know who you are and I know where you live.)

What am I going to do with all these hats? Stay tuned...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday is for Friends

It would be easy enough to turn into a hermit. Some days I feel pretty close to it, but if you look up the definition, being a hermit isn't such a bad thing, what with the introspective aspect and all. If you're into tarot cards, here's what the Hermit is about. Makes it sounds a little less mental, doesn't it?

I've fought the tendency--it's the reason I started playing tennis again, as opposed to golf. But then, things like blogging, knitting, and cooking, just to name a few of my current obsessions, can pretty much be done in complete solitude, and I don't plan on giving those up any time soon.

But here's the thing--no matter how deeply I get into my passions, I always end up wanting to share them. On the face of it blogging, knitting, cooking, etc., sound like things that would isolate a person, but really, they're just the opposite. Who blogs strictly for themselves? What knitter doesn't knit for others? I have exactly zero "cooking for one" cookbooks. You get the idea.

As much as I like showing off sharing the things I love to do, at times I have to be blasted out of my cocoon with a stick of dynamite. Or at least a persistent nudge. I've had a lot of un-ignorable nudges lately, and I appreciate them very much--comments on this blog, emails, invitations. I've tried to reciprocate with comments of my own, return emails, little gifts. I don't know if any of them matter to the recipients, but in a way, it's not for them; it's for me. This hermit likes being connected and likes giving, as long as I don't come off as a stalker.

Friends matter. Giving to them and giving of them matters. It feels good for everybody. Or should if there's no strings attached. And that brings up the whole expectations thing, which is another blog post for another day.

Have a great weekend, Friends, and make time for blogging, knitting, cooking, reading, and most of all, your friends.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is why I ♥ Etsy.com

Tell me this is not the coolest slipcover EVER. Must be really expensive to mail stuff from South Africa, however. Ouch.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two-trick Pony

It's not all knit all the time. Today we got our first snowfall, puny as it was, and to celebrate I made my own snowflakes.

These weren't exactly a slam dunk, I won't lie. I had most of the tools I needed, except for a rubber mallet. O.K., so one little lie--somewhere in this house, there is a rubber mallet. Its whereabouts, however, elude me, so I bought another one. This one will be hidden and it will take bamboo shoots under my fingernails and hot sauce in my eyes to get me to tell where I'll hide it. And perhaps a teeny second little lie--my round nose pliers suck, so I bought a better pair. You can barely bend a marshmallow with the old ones, and as we all know, good tools make good crafts. Oh yeah. Beads. Maybe a few more jumped into the cart. So except for those things, I had everything I needed to make these ornaments.

The wire frames are pretty stiff, so making the loops at the end of each spoke is kind of tough. The beads can be pricey, but I got them on sale, so that helped. I was pretty big into jewelry making in the past, so my stash was, um, adequate. It was fun to sort through the boxes, rediscover what I have and make plans for other pieces.

These snowflakes are destined to be gifts, except for the first one I made, before I realized I'd forgotten how to make proper open loops. That one is hanging on my car rear view mirror. I have no problems with its imperfections, but since I can do better, I saved the better ones for the gifts. It's kind of like the first pancake you make--it doesn't always look as nice as the rest but it still tastes good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I've been up to something...

I made cakes this weekend.

They morphed into this:

Are you curious? Let me tease you just a bit more. The yarn is Cascade 128 Superwash. It is squishy and yummy and plump, and a delight to work with. Soon, my peeps, soon...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday is for Friends

If you're a Twitter fan (don't roll your eyes, DD) Friday is the day people like to attach a #FF to their tweets. It's a shout-out to friends and followers. In that light, I'm declaring that from now on, Friday is Friend Day. Call a friend you haven't spoken to for a while. Meet a friend at a yarn shop, then go out for coffee and some knitting. Email some photos to a faraway friend. Make a new friend. Send a secret surprise gift to an online friend, just because it's Friday.

Today, I'm meeting a new friend for lunch. Maybe we'll eventually become old friends. Who knows?

Now, go forth and Friend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I ♥ Rick Bayless

I've been on a cooking jag lately, so the last couple of nights when I didn't cook, the family was a bit miffed. Pretty sure they got over it when they tasted the salsa I put on the counter for them as I left for some nighttime tennis. This particular variety is a "seasonal" thing--chipotle pumpkin. OMG. This stuff is so freaking good, it's worth the $3.99 price tag. I actually had it for dinner last night, along with some sweet potato tortilla chips. I bought it at Whole Foods, but there wasn't much left after I stocked up. How many did I buy? Let's just say I'm ready to party with a couple of hundred of my closest friends. Or just Rick Bayless. Alone, just the two of us. Ahem.

There's been knitting on the home front, even if there wasn't much cooking. The Ribby Cardi is progressing nicely. Not sure why I let it marinate so long. It's a fun knit, nothing difficult but not boring either. I've already finished the sleeves and have just a wee bit more for both fronts, which I'm doing TAAT of course. I like to leave the back for last. For some reason, it makes it seem like the sweater goes faster if I'm left with just one piece at the end. Anybody else do this?

Last but not least, if you didn't vote in yesterday's elections, NO SOUP FOR YOU. Yes, all the negative attack ads were a monumental PITA and very demoralizing at times, but our governor-elect managed to run his entire campaign without them, and he won by a decisive margin. It doesn't have to be sleazy, folks. Just sayin'...