Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daisy Dear

In the midst of all that madcap holiday knitting I took on a test knit project. I don't really know what I was thinking, but I'm glad that I did because it was a really fun hat to make.


This hat was designed by my friend Lenka who is one of the most amazing colorwork fiends I've ever met, and she designed this one as a good 'beginner's' project. Which it actually is (heck, I did it) since the design is very intuitive, there are no overly long yarn floats and the motifs move you along very quickly.


The crown of the hat is especially masterful, I think, with a strong architectural theme that is again very easy to memorize. I didn't even choose those colors, they just dropped into my lap, unbidden. And who am I to protest? I used the Brown Sheep Lanaloft Sport, which is a blessedly forgiving yarn which helps give a professional veneer to my amateurish colorwork skills


This hat will be published soon under the Twisted pattern line -- check in with them to try it out for yourself!

Monday, December 20, 2010



The sun came out, after all that moaning, and I lost no time in getting out my camera. To see what there was to see on my walk to work, and to find those instances of my colors that I could. The above photo is of a mysterious window display that has captured my imagination for years now.




We had a birthday party for the boy yesterday, complete with some crafts which I'll blog about soon...right now, I have to finish knitting! Gahhhh!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

stone soup

My life has been shockingly photo- and wool-less lately. I'm knitting but it's yielded nothing since it's the time of year when I'm constantly interrupted or else what I'm working on is hush-hush. Nothing terribly exciting, though, all the same. The weather has been nasty so the light has been poor and I've barely even taken pictures. Lest I be accused of whining, today was lovely and my whole family and a passel of friends loaded up with hot cocoa in thermoses and went to the zoo lights. For some reason I always have a great time. And the boy wore his brand-new birthday fish mittens that Sorren made for him (pictures someday) and we laughed and jumped up and down and flapped our wings to keep warm.

But this is what I'm really here for:


I make soup every week, and lately it's been a version of the same everything-in-a-pot-to-clean-out-the-fridge sort of old world economizing soup. Sometimes I bake a nice crusty bread for dipping, or noodles, or crostini out of the old stale bread my father blessed us with. I love soup. It's hearty, tasty, includes all the necessary food groups and generally only dirties one pot (plus some knives) and then one bowl each. One night as we were eating our soup my dearly beloved said I should blog about it for you, since -- as he said -- it just seems like soup and knitting go together. So here it is, friends, my baseline poor-person's soup of winter heartiness:

** Measurements are generous and approximate. It's really hard to run afoul with your ingredients in soup **

3-4 quarts stock (I often make my own and then supplement with store-bought)
several celery stalks
a few pounds of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery root, turnips, sweet potato, unsweet get the idea.
2 cups pearl barley
1-2 cups legumes (precooked, or dry if they're quick-cooking like the lentils)
2-3 pounds protein (I like beef in the winter, but I'll also use the baked chicken from the previous night and sausage or hambone for flavor...if the meat is not already cooked, I brown it before adding it to the soup. And before you go judging on the amounts, I feed at least three boys most nights and they always eat up all the meat.)
1-2 large cans whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
spices: cumin, thyme, a whisper of cardamom or cinnamon (I often add these to stocks), rosemary, etc.

Procedure: 1) Put the barley and lentils (if using) in a bowl and cover with cold water to soak while preparing other ingredients (to reduce the amount of your stock they use up -- you can also cook them separately and add them in, but that's another pot dirtied). 2) Saute chopped onion in pot until translucent, add spices and throw in the cubed celery and root vegetables, stir for a bit. 3) Cover with your stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. If using uncooked meat, brown it while the stock is heating, then add to the vegetables. 4) Add the drained barley and lentils, cook until tender (approx. 30 minutes). 5) Add tomato and any precooked ingredients and let simmer gently for a bit to meld.

Devour for three meals a day for several days. Or if you're crazy organized, freeze some and save for a rainy day when you don't feel like cooking. My favorite trick (much to my family's chagrin) is to make the same pot of soup stretch out for a week or so, adding some different ingredients and more stock here and there as they present themselves until the character of your soup changes into something totally different than you started with. I always feel like my Croatian grandmother when I do this, since I hate wasting food and soup is such a great, cheap, nutritious way to feed the voracious hordes (and we have us some of those here in this house), especially if you're baking your own bread to go with it.

So long, friends, and keep warm!

star mitties2

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The {big} little things

The quality of life depends so much on the quality of your friends. My friends, I tell you, take the cake. I am the luckiest girl. Sorren (who we've discussed before with her impressive array of talents) presented me with these yesterday:


We have to rewind a bit first because it wasn't all a surprise. A year ago, another very good friend, Star, gave me this yarn for my birthday, a lovely hand-dyed sport weight that just kept taunting me and not really wanting to be anything except socks. And I don't really do socks (not adult-sized ones anyway) but I may just start because hand knit socks really are a world apart. I was musing over this out loud in Sorren's presence one day and she said, 'I'll make them for you!' After I picked my jaw up off the floor I ran to my cabinet and stuffed the yarn in her hands before she could change her mind. Like I said, I'm just weak that way. Some weeks later, these, the most gorgeous socks ever to grace my feet are allll mine. It's her own pattern, one which she says she'll be writing up.

I love the comfort of the turned cuff


and the texture of the simple stitch pattern really lets the yarn shine

(The white balance and I are having uncharacteristic arguments lately, I don't know if I've changed or if my camera did but I miss our golden relationship of yesteryear! Imagine all this a little less blue and you'll be there.)



I love these, they are perfect, and I am indebted to her generosity for life. To both of them, really. I defy you to think of how I could be any luckier!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Albatross

I said to myself some weeks back that it was high time I spin up a laceweight yarn. For kicks, you know, and the satisfaction of it. Some people do this all the time, and I now believe that they are sadists because it is a bit of a slog, I tell you what. Maybe I'm not doing it right (hail to the self-taught crafters) but this humble little skein probably took about fifteen hours to squeeze out (perhaps I exaggerate just a skosh) and that's not including the many hours I spent ignoring and avoiding its heathen self. So I'm calling it The Albatross, but even for all that, I am very satisfied with it because this skein has some serious squish.

That right there is almost 1000 yards (985 for those with hair splitters), and it has a companion mini-skein of 188 yards because I plied it up until my bobbin literally could not turn any more under the duress of so. much. yarn.

I've had a bit of a spinning frenzy in the resulting void left by this yarn's absence, and I'm pleased to say that many more yarns will be making their debut to the shop this week. I'm not going to make you suffer through an exegesis here, just head on over and see them soon.

But before I go, look! I dyed! (nyar-de-har, I never tire of that threadbare pun.)



Carrie of Big Alice Dyes had Sorren and me over for a very generous dyeing tutorial and holy rusted rocks, batman, this is some crazy fun stuff. While I am clearly in some sort of a Green Period, we have big ambitions to start doing this for serious reals and spinning up and selling our very own roving in all colors of the rainbow...we're trying to come up with a good marriage of our names, Spindleshanks and Puddlefish. My vote is on Spindlefish, any other bright ideas?