Monday, June 30, 2008

June stash update

Not only is today the end of the month, it is also the end of one academic year and the beginning of the next for me. (No summer vacations in medicine, unfortunately). I had sincerely hoped to be done with the stash by today, and had planned for it, but sadly, I was unable to use up the stash this month. Mainly because I'm lazy, and also because I got distracted by 1) work, 2) golf, 3) cooking, and 4) perfect shaping for the kangaroo.

Here is a sneak peek! I already love her. She doesn't have hind legs so far, so she can't run away. I spent days making the perfect forelimbs, and a few more hours trying to come up with the perfect hindlimbs. I'm trying to get the right balance of anatomically correct and cute, and that's really hard if you don't want any seams in knitting a muscular kangaroo hindleg. She should be done in a day or two.

FO's this month include a carrot cat toy, a sweater/hat/flower baby set, goldfish cat toy, penguin, and mittens.

I finished six yarns this month, including the red and cream Cashsoft, black DK wool, yellow Louet, brown/orange Louet, and pink Swish Superwash. And I have a confession...I gave away a whole skein of Red Heart, all 225 grams of it, to Silvana, to pass on to her mother. I am a bad, bad stashbuster. I have too much, and just really don't like knitting with it. But there's a gigundo amount of it left, as I didn't have the cajones to give away any sub-skeins, plus I didn't want to run out in the middle of kangaroo legs. Le coeur rouge est mort, vive le coeur rouge!

So this leaves about 150 to 200 grams in the stash. (The rest of the yarn is all in WIPs and can't be weighed properly, so it's all approximate.) Here's the monthly graph, with the blue showing the goal of finishing by th end of 2008, and the red showing the actual amount remianing. It's a bummer not to be done yet, but since I consider July 4 weekend to be the real end of June, that is the new goal for the stash-ending date.

Baby shower

Since one of our knitting group members is almost bursting at the seams, we had a baby-shower-cum-knit-group yesterday.

First, the food.

Jackie got an Incredible Hulk cake, which, though unplanned, worked pretty well for unborn Edward, who is pretty rambunctious and feisty already.

I made a zucchini quiche from my Fairshares take this week. The recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, which I love. (And if you've noticed that I love every cookbook I mention on here, that's because I don't use the ones I don't like.) There was even extra filling leftover to make another whole crustless quiche.

Tammy brought yummy cheesy roll-ups.

Jenna did a bunch of planning and also made this cute foamy punch, complete with rubber ducky!

Lenora sort of brought monkey bread with chocoloate chips

And I don't know who brought the pastries, but they were good too.

Silvana brought a bunch of finger foods, including dolmas, spicy breadsticks, hummus, and salad caprese with basil from her garden!

I didn't get a picture of RMS's fruit tart because it was covered, but here she is, wearing a sweater she just finished. It has awesome black and white patterning at the waist, as well as striped ribbing on the sleeves.

The other person wearing a handknit was Lenora, who was wearing a hemp (I think) raglan short-sleeve sweater in a seafoam color. She looks nice and grandmotherly (which she is), but she also says the most outrageously naughty things and gets away with it.

Well sometimes the guest of honor says some outrageous things too, but they will be censored here. Here's Erica, loving the baby blanket Lenora knitted. That's made of sock yarn, and would take mere mortals *years* to knit.

All in all, we had a great time, and got ridiculously high on sugar. It was so fun in fact, that I didn't really mind that I forgot to take my knitting!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Delicious decay

Sorry, still no knitting FO's, but I did get some baking done today. We finally got a good amount of produce in our Fairshares share this week: raspberries, cherries, cucumbers (woohoo!), zucchini, summer squash, lettuce, and an herb I can't recognize. Plus there was hummus, cheese spread, 10-grain flour, trout, eggs, bagels, and something else I'm forgetting. I ate too much of it before I remembered to take a picture, oops.

Anyway, the cherries sat in the fridge for a couple days because I couldn't figure out what to do with them. I don't like artificial cherry flavor, so when I tasted fresh cherries I just couldn't like them. Cherry pie is always good, but there weren't enough (you'd need 4-5 cups) for that. So they sat around and got a bit soggy and gross:

Meanwhile, I'd put some frozen mango in the fridge a week ago to thaw, to make banana-mango smoothies for breakfast. This past week I realized that I am not and never will be a breakfast-eater, and no smoothies were made. So I had a bunch of black bananas and (no-longer) frozen mangoes too. So I decided to do something good out of all this decaying fruit, and made banana muffins and a cranberry-mango crisp.

The banana muffin recipe is from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. I have the biggest girl-crush/food-crush on her, and I love the rambling intros to all of the recipes.

The recipe made only 8 muffins, and some are a bit short as you can see, and in real life there are only 3 left :( . They are totally addictive and soooo good. Oh, I also added butterscotch chips, which make almost anything taste better. Next time I'd double the recipe and make a meal of it.

The Cherry-mango crisp recipe is adapted from the Apricot-cherry crisp recipe from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville, which I fortuitously found in the used book section of Left Bank Books. It's the only indie bookstore left in St Louis, so I always feel virtuous about my finds from there.

She's the chef at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, where I've never been but would like to go based on the cookbook alone. It's all vegetarian, and all the recipes I've tried (10 or so, a lot for any cookbook) have been wonderful. The crumb topping is supposed to have walnuts in it, but I had a few hazelnuts left over from a prior recipe that weren't enough for anything else, and so I used them instead. Yummy! (Hazelnuts are the most delicious nut, followed by pistachio, then it's a tie between almonds and cashews and pine nuts. In case anyone is interested imho.)
Anyway, it was super-easy and turned out beautifully. I'm trying to save it for a barbecue tomorrow, but somehow I don't think it'll make it there...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Knitted bike

I saw this super-cute knitted bicycle by Christina Oh on Design*sponge today, and had to share. How adorable is this!?

I wonder if she's on ravelry...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Greek key lace

The Elisabeth wedding shawl planning is chugging along. I wanted to put in a bit of Greek key, because her grandmother loves it. I searched, and searched, and couldn't find any Greek key lace patterns. So I made one up! Actually two, because I can't figure out which one is better.

Here there are, made in some worsted wool so you can see the difference, pinned out. (Click on the picture to make it bigger). There are one or two stitches I'd fix for either of them, so judge based on the real difference between them (if you can spot it). Please vote in the survey to the right, so I can choose! Until the survey closes, I'm really going to be good, and work on finishing out the stash, promise!

Top Chef

I am dying to go to the St Louis visit by the Top Chef tour. Yet the link on the Bravo page doesn't work. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two years

Today's my and my husband's second anniversary! Hooray! This seems like a really long time, and then I realize, I've had much of my stash for a lot longer than that. Stash-years are like the opposite of dog-years--seven years in the stash should count as just one year. Not like I'd ever keep anything in the stash for 7 years. Oh no, never, nuh-uh. :)

But really, truly, the stash is almost gone, and today I treated myself to planning the first post-stash project. This will be a wedding shawl for my dearest friend Elisabeth (with an S), who actually probably won't wear it at her wedding, as it will be in August in Texas. I exchanged the Sublime kidsilk I'd bought before, after Jenna pointed out that it looked like cat hairballs, for some Rowan Kidsilk Aura. I wish there had been some Kidsilk Night (which has a little bit of metallic thread) in a similar color, but no such luck. The color didn't come out very well in the picture, but it's a reddish-brown.

I'm torn whether I should add in some beads or carry along a metallic thread to jazz it up a bit, because the color is pretty close to her hair color. The silk part of the yarn does have a nice sheen to it though, so it might be fine. What should I do?

Also, I'm having trouble finding a rectangular shawl pattern with a nice, open, lace pattern, where the edge is not knitted on at the end (which I absolutely hate doing). I have a nice leaf pattern picked out for the center, but the edges are giving me trouble. I'm looking for a lace pattern than will produce a scalloped pattern on the sides, as well as either the top or bottom edge. Anyone have any good ideas?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Kangaroo anatomy

The kangaroos are the LAST big project left from the stash, and I've put them off long enough. I'd put all of the kangaroo krap into a big kanvas bag and hidden it away. There's nothing like blogging to keep you accountable--I started them on January 19, and last worked on them on February 10, over FOUR months ago. Well, yesterday I pulled out the kanvas bag o'kangaroo and realized that when I swapped out the size 7 dpn's needed for another project, I had dropped the stitch markers. That, and there's a loose wrap in the short rows in the head. And I wanted to make sure the pattern I started over.

Here's the new one, standing over the half-knitted old one.

We had a lovely time at knitting yesterday, and RMS was kind enough to look up some kangaroo anatomy on her super fancy phone/internet-surfing device. Important information we all learned:
1) Male kangaroos do not have pouches, while female kangaroos obviously do
2) However they all have nipples

Things that are still unknown:
1) Where the nipples are located on the male kangaroos
2) Whether female kangaroos are born with a pouch, or if they develop later on

In any case, I'm making the Jill right now, so I'll put in a pouch, but I'll need to do some more research before I can make the Joey (I think it's the same name whether boy or girl kangaroo) or the Jack. And don't worry, I won't be knitting (or embroidering) any nipples or other R-rated body parts.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Sorry, no knitting has been accomplished in the past two days. Too much distraction, specifically:

I am terrible so far, but I do love my new pink/fuscia bag and clubs!

We all know what this means...knitted golf club cozies!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

FO: Red Mittens

I'd never knitted mittens lying out by the pool before. These aren't too seasonal, but mittens were the perfect project for this yarn. The yarn is Rowan RYC Cashsoft Aran in Poppy, which is a lovely mixture of cashmere, wool, and microfiber. I had 45 grams leftover from making the Sock Monkey Head Gloves, and thought I'd be able to eke out a pair of regular mittens.

I really like the Staghorn Mittens from Ulla (available in English as a free Ravelry download too, in case you don't read Finnish) by Taija Elo, but I was nervous about making mittens from wrist-down, in case the yarn ran out. So I redesigned them to be finger-up (sounds a lot grosser than toe-up, but you get the idea), and used the same cable pattern.

These were done two at a time, on one pair of magic loop-ed circs, with each glove being knitted from different ends of the ball of yarn.

So when I ran out of yarn--thankfully after a good amount of cuff had been done--the gloves were the same size. And both gloves were finished!
Now just have to wait 6 months before I can wear them out and not look crazy...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Zucchini pancakes

I finished up last week's Fairshares share today. Two whole vegetables! Actually three, because zucchini and yellow summer squash are technically different, plus there were some garlic scapes. If you've read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (and if you haven't, do it now), you'll know that zucchini are kinda hard to get rid of. But she doesn't know about zucchini pancakes! So here's a tasty Korean contribution to zucchini cuisine.

2 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 T oil, plus more for frying
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c water
Best quality dipping soy sauce
Best quality sesame seed oil, or toasted sesame seeds
Approximately 2 pounds squash, carrots, or other shreddable veggies
Approximate 1/4 pound onion, garlic, shallot, chives, or similar

(This is what I used)

1. Whisk flour and salt together. Make a well, put in eggs, oil, and half of water, and whisk. Add additional water until it resembles thin pancake (or crepe) batter. Don't worry about over-stirring, because you want the pancakes to be chewy at the end. Let rest at room temp.
2. Shred veggies on the fine side of the grater. Squeeze out excess liquid. (No need to use cheesecloth, just squeeze like snowballs). Fluff.

3. Finely cut onions, garlic, shallots. I used onions, scapes, and chives today.

4. Mix onion mixture into veggie mixture, then add in batter, until a thin slurry forms.

5. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium, and add oil (or spray). The oil is to makes the pancake color nice and brown, so you can leave out if you want. When the pan is hot, put one ladle of batter into the pan. Use a spatula to smoosh the batter ~1/4" thick.
6. When the bottom is medium-brown (~5 min), turn. Smoosh again to make the bottom nice and smooth. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes more.
7. Cool on paper towel.

8. When halfway cool, cut like a St Louis Pizza (into squares). This locks in the chewy part on the inside, and keeps the ouside crisp. Not many actually make it out of the kitchen after this stage, but just in case...
9. Serve with soy sauce with sesame (oil or seeds).


Monday, June 16, 2008

FO: Penguin

Oh, I luff him!

The pattern is Pasha the Penguin, from Knitty, by Alexandra Virgiel. The short row shaping in this pattern is amazing! Look at the pot belly on this guy! Pattern modifications were only because I ran out of yarn, and include the following:
1) On the back part, the second of the 13-row repeats was shortened to 6 rows
2) On the front part, I did the belly short-row shaping twice, and did not do any rows to make up for the third one
3) Switched to yellow on the front part one row early, and left out two of the "work even" rows at the end.

Oh, and I ran out of yarn, so I agonized about what color arms to give him. I then realized one of my cashmere tanks had gotten a hole in it, and I'd been planning to cannibalize it to sew something, so I used a smidge of that to make the flippers. And, obviously, one of the soles of his feet is white, because I ran out of yellow.

All three yarns were used up, including 15 grams of DK weight black wool (don't have the brand anymore), 7 grams Louet Gems Worsted in goldilocks, and 14 grams Rowan RYC Cashsoft Aran in Cream. Only 7 more yarns to go!

I'm so excited about this fella! I love penguins and puffins, although I hate/am terrified by birds as a group. In fact, my wedding cake topper was two lil penguins, one with a veil and the other one with a bowtie. And my knitting bag is a Puffins cereal canvas bag. I'd gladly make another Pasha, except...I don't have any yarn left!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

FO: black goldfish

Here's a little finished object from a while back, I just wanted to wait until my recipient for The Black Yarn Swap (Sabrina, the swap organizer, at My Knitting Basket) got her package. It's a little crocheted goldfish, filled with catnip, for her kitty to enjoy. So bug-eyed and cute! The pattern is Goldfish Cat Toy, free from Lion Brand. It's supposed to be longer and skinnier, but something's wrong with my crochet gauge, and no way am I going to swatch in crochet...for a cat toy. I used up 6 grams of some DK weight black wool, leftover from a pair of gloves.

I started on Pasha the Penguin (from Knitty) today at knitting group. It's knitted bottom-up, each color separately, and I ran out of black yarn just as I was rounding the back part of the head. Oh lordy. I so so regretted making that goldfish with black yarn!!! I frogged halfway, shortened the back 8 rows, and knit all the way back. Now I'm all done except for the wings, for which I have no black yarn left! Unless I can scrounge up something, he is going to be a double amputee. I also ran out of the yellow, so the underside of one foot is going to be white.

Cammy went for her yearly checkup at the Cat Clinic this past week. She's always been gloomy and hissy at the vet, but this time she was an absolute terror. After the visit, the vet and his technician were saying how she wasn't the worst cat, but the #2 worst cat. It turns out that #1 bad cat was the technician's cat, who attacked the vet when he was brought to be euthanized. Poor kitty. Then I realized, that poor kitty is dead, and thus...Cammy reigns as the baddest living cat at the cat clinic! I am secretly proud and ashamed of her. Back home, she is back to her usual, loving, not-crazy-violent, normal wonderful self. Here she is, helping with the knit photography:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Triple FO: Lazy-Daisy Set

Well here it is at last, after blocking and decorations. The pattern is Daisy, by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, from Knitty. The pattern was very altered in that I made it as an actual raglan sweater, instead of doing the sleeves separately from the body. I also added the lace (rather than 3 rows of boring seed stitch) at the ends of the torso and sleeves; the pattern is Arbor Lace from Knitting On The Edge by Nicky Epstein (review here).

I decided not to embroider daisies all over the sweater, not only because it's grotesque but because my hand-sewing skills are pretty pathetic. So I made a big pin, Sex-and-the-City-style, to tie everything together. (Btw, I loved the movie!).
As you can tell from the back, my sewing is pretty bad. With all the different colors, I ended up with quite a few loose ends, so I knotted them and covered them up with a little piece of fabric. Then I sewed on one of the safety pins I saved from my neurological duties.

The pattern is a combination of the two flowers, Five Petal Flower and Crochet Picot Flower, both by Julie Armstrong Holetz (SkaMama). The first four rounds of petals were done as the Five Petal Flower pattern. Then I adapted the "leaves" from the Picot Flower pattern, but bigger. To do them, do *sc, hdc, dc, tr, tr, etr, picot, etr, tr, tr, dr, hdc* in each*5ch* space. "Etr" means treble crochet, except add an extra *yarn over and pull ONE loop through* at the beginning (sort of like the "edr" she has described very nicely, except with treble crochet).

The hat pattern is Berry Baby Hat, by Michelle Sabatier (randomstitches). I ran out of pink halfway through, so I switched to yellow before proceeding to the green "leaves." This is a super-easy, quick, and cute pattern! It looks more like an upside-down tulip rather than a berry, but nice nonetheless.

The buttons of the sweater were made as follows with crochet:
Ch 2, sc 6 into first ch, cut and pull yarn through. Using needle, pull free cut yarn to center of "button." Tie square knot, and cut loose ends.

Here are all three finished objects together. The hat is being modeled on a jar of red lentils. (I ate the butternut squash who was my prior baby hat model).

All in all, I'm really pleased with these projects because it's really cute, used up a lot of random skeins of yarn, and everything still works harmoniously. The yarns used are
-Knit Picks Swish Superwash wool in Ballerina
-Louet Gems Worsted in Goldilocks
-Dream in Color in Happy Forest

I finished only one yarn (the Knit Picks), but only 7 grams of the yellow Louet and 3 grams of the green Dream in Color are left. Hooray!