Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Post #200! Fun Challenges! Exciting Prizes!

This is my 200th post, if Blogger's calculations are correct.'s Blogger, after all, so who knows? And I am a desperate knitter in need of a project I actually have the time to do, and in possession of more yarn than I have time to knit with, and with no time to look for the perfect project. And I'm still on the ravelry wait list. That's where you come in! I am going to list some yarns in my stash, and if someone comes up with a project that tickles my fancy, that person will win a lovely prize from my stash! Am I keeping the prize secret to increase suspense, or because I have not had time to dig through the stash to decide what I want to send? Who knows? More than one project=more than one winner! There might even be baked goods in your prize package. Pass this on to anyone you know who could use a little yarn and has great ideas. The rules (which I'm making up as I go along):

The Great 200th Post Yarn Competition

1. It needs to be a more do-able project than my Irish Diamond Shawl, which should be just about any project out there.
2. No cables. I don't have time to learn them.
3. No cat sweaters. I don't have the body armor I'd need to put them on the cats.
4. Patterns from my books or patterns I list, free internet patterns, or low-cost downloadable internet patterns are okay. I can't have to buy a new book. Unless it's a REALLY good book I should have anyway. And probably the library has it. So, no restrictions there, I guess. What a waste of a rule! I won't bother listing my patterns and books, then.
5. No outside yarn, but combining yarns I already have is fair, and doubling is fine.
6. No limit on the number of entries!

General guidelines: I'd sort of like to make something for myself or Lilah. It can be a sweater, a felted bag, a pillow or blanket, a tea cozy, whatever. I'd like it to be a medium project (not something tiny like a washcloth). Or a bunch of small projects I can give away at Christmas. What I really would like to do is a sweater for me, but I can't see that I have a yarn that works with a pattern I know about. Maybe the 4-ply doubled? Obviously, anything goes here, just about.

Okay, here are the yarns:
1. Blue Skies Alpaca Silk (sport weight, 292 yards, color blush)
2. Cascade 220 (worsted, 880 yards, color blue-green)
3. Cascade 220 (worsted, 880 yards, color light grey)
4. Euroflax Linen (fingering, 270 yards, color light green)
5. Rowanspun 4-ply (fingering, 972 yards, color Turkish (purply-blue))
6. Rowanspun 4-ply (fingering, 1320 yards, color Siren (red))
7. Pakucho Organic Cotton (worsted, 400 yards, color Chocolate)
8. Knitpicks Shine (sport, 440 yards, color Sky)
9. Knitpicks Shine (sport, 160 yards, color Cream)
10. Rowanspun DK (DK, 876 yards, color Mist (mottled blue-grey))
11. Peruvian Collection Baby Silk (fingering, 700 yards, color lavender)
12. Peruvian Collection Baby Silk (fingering, 1800 yards, color purple)
13. Blackwater Abbey (worsted wool, 440 yards, color Haw (red))
14. Brooks Farm Four Play (worsted silk/wool, 540 yards, color Poppies (like neopolitan ice cream))
15. I have assorted scraps of feltable stuff in a bag under the bed.

Submit your entries before the deadline of "whenever I feel I have enough and decide to choose a project"! Good luck!

Edited to add: When you comment with an entry, mention your favorite kinds of yarn (color, weight, fiber content) just in case. Don't worry...I won't send anyone Fun Fur!


We had ANOTHER trip out of town, this one to Michigan. I missed a week posting because these days, it takes us a week to gear up for a trip and another to recover! This was a trip well worth preparing for, though, as my brother-in-law got married! Lilah obviously wanted to see them get married, as she was quiet but alert throughout the ceremony, then fell asleep almost immediately afterwards. It was lovely, and so nice to see so much of Matt's family.

Regarding my last post: those of you on the edge of your seats will be happy to hear that Geronimo has been forgiven and that all laundry came clean. Rachel, you are SO right. I am very lucky that he missed the suitcase itself. He only hit machine-washable clothes. Tim, since I was laughing two minutes later, you are not a jerk at all :) It was pretty funny, actually. I loved everyone's cat pee stories. Nice to know I'm not the only one. As my little brother once told my mom, after being chastised for regaling us with several stories, "But Mom, pee stories are always crowd-pleasers!" Indeed.

Rachel also gets a "heh heh" for her comments on Jack :)

Knitting: Not much. Travel used to mean lots of knitting on planes and in cars, but these days, I'm rarely optimistic enough to bring it along. See more on this in my next post.

Writing: Not at all. A bit of frenzied note-taking on changes I want to make to the plot.

Reading: I finished Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson, and quite enjoyed it. Fun cozy mysteries. I also read The Tale of Holly How, #2 in Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter mysteries, and Death at Bishop's Keep, the first in the Robin Paige series (Robin Paige is really Susan Wittig Albert and her husband). Bother series are charming and engaging, and I will be reading more. I am currently reading The Boggart by Susan Cooper while I wait for more Robin Paige books to arrive from

Cooking: Not a whole lot. I made Pasta With White Beans, Greens, and Lemon from September's Cooking Light. It was delicious. Matt loved it, too. The "greens" are really arugula or spinach, nothing off-putting as the title suggests. (Matt is never enthused when I make something with "greens" or "root vegetables" and such.) I have plans to make Pad See Ew and Pad Thai in the near future. Matt's less excited about the Pad See Ew since it has broccoli as a main ingredient. Actually, Chinese broccoli, which Dekalb County Farmers Market has, but it's way expensive, so I'm making do with regular broccoli. Dekalb County Farmers Market is a fantastic place, but it's really the opposite of a farmer's market. It's a big giant store with produce from all over the world (this is where you find the weird vegetables called for in your Indian cookbook, for example), dry goods, dairy, deli, everything really. Maybe it started out as a farmer's market and just changed over time. Anyway, it has great produce and all the Thai, Indian, etc. ingredients I can't find elsewhere (tamarind, anyone?). They also have the good vanilla extract, the one Williams-Sonoma sells for $19, for $10. I would have photos up, but one of the many rules posted at the door is NO PHOTOGRAPHY. They're a little weird with all the rules, like you can't bring your own little basket to shop with, and you have to check all bags. I hope I don't get blacklisted just by writing about it.

I also made my own interpretation of Pina Colada Muffins from Sweet Revenge. They were excellent. Really different, refreshing, and yummy. I adapted them to be non-dairy and also added some juice for extra flavor. In future, I will try either soaking the coconut in rum as well or adding 1/3 cup rum to replace part of the soy milk to make them a bit less dry (though they weren't horribly dry, just could have been more moist.) Here's my version:

Pina Colada Muffins
Adapted from Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

About 13 ounces dried pineapple
1 1/2 cups dark rum
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
juice of one orange, plus enough soy milk to make 2 cups liquid
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one orange
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut

Place pineapple in a small saucepan and cover with rum. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cool about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the yummy pineapple flavored rum for later. Pat pineapple dry. Reserve 24 nice-looking chunks, then roughly chop the rest. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350. Coat 24 muffin cups with cooking spray (and hit the tops of the pans, too). Line with paper liners if you like that sort of thing. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together canola oil, sugar, eggs, juice, soy milk, vanilla, and zest until well combined. Slowly add flour mixture, coconut, and pineapple. Divide among 24 muffin cups (about 1/2 cup each). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


For Inappropriate Urination and Destruction of Private Property.
Wanted: Only Alive (Pending Results of Laundry)

What Matt heard this morning as I got dressed in the other room: "What the---? Oh my god! OH MY GOD! How could you--? What the--? WHERE ARE YOU, YOU BIG ORANGE FREAK????"

Geronimo is on my List. And I don't mean my Happy Sunshine List. I hadn't finished unpacking all the way from our California trip. I know that's lame. But there's been a lot to do and I've just been pulling clothes out of my suitcase, left open in our bedroom, figuring I'd eventually get it so close to empty that it would be quick to finish. Well. Early this morning, Geronimo was being noisy while we were trying to get Lilah back to sleep, so we shut him in the bedroom. We're talking 20 minutes, here, not extended inhumane incarceration. And he apparently felt this was a pee-able offense. So now I have a load of my clothes in the laundry. Thank goodness he picked that side instead of the side where my Irish Diamond Shawl was. Actually, I've already forgiven him. He has a history of inappropriate peeing (we had this box lined with a towel that the guys loved to nap in until one day....well, you know where this story is going) and I should have unpacked. The open suitcase with clothes in it is just too much like his idea of a litterbox to leave out like that.

So that's the fun stuff going on around here...

Lilah is crawling really, really well now. She crawls best when there's a cat to crawl toward. Here she is in California, meeting my brother's cat, Jack. Check out his laser beam eyes. Every picture of him seems to have those. He must have superpowers or something.

Between Lilah's crawling and numerous house projects, BUSY is the four-letter word of choice around here, so I have to apologize AGAIN for falling behind on my blog-reading. I'm looking forward to getting caught up soon. I'm so busy that I missed the Emory Alumnae knitting circle last night, which I had really been looking forward to. I'll have to make it next time.

Knitting: Not a stitch since I finished the bolero. Can you believe that? Knitting is usually something I do while watching tv, and I have watched almost none at all in a week. Too much else going on. I have Irish Diamond out so I can do a row here and there, but I need to go through the stash and pick another quick project. I've been thinking of starting something for Lilah for when she's bigger, like a sweater in size 4 or so, so there's no pressure to finish.

Reading: The Penguin Who Knew Too Much (or is it Too Little? I don't have the book with me) by Donna Andrews: This is the latest Meg Langslow mystery, and I thought it was fun, fun, fun. I love these. They're such a pleasure to read. The first is Murder With Peacocks if you're interested. Meg's kooky family ends up embroiled in another murder (you couldn't pay me enough to visit them, since someone always ends up dead) and Andrews's writing is enjoyable and the characters are like old friends by now.

I'm working on Diane Mott Davidson's Sweet Revenge, and enjoying it with reservations. I like Goldy, but there are things that are irritating, both in the series as a whole, and in this book in particular. I think her husband is sometimes condescending, and Goldy, despite her protestations to the contrary, is seriously nosy, often for no good reason I can see. Her son is less annoying in this one, at least so far. But the characters are fun, the cooking is fun, and while the mystery seems a bit obvious, I could be completely wrong about the solution. The first in the series is Catering to Nobody.

Writing: Not at all.

Cooking; I made hummus, baba ghanosh, and (for the first time) foul moudammas! I made two kinds, actually. This recipe right here and this one and both were lovely. The second is my favorite, as it is closest to the one served at a Madison restaurant we loved. (If you still live there, it's King of Falafel, yum.) I also made Pear Ginger Muffins, based on a recipe in, of all things, Starbucks Passion for Coffee cookbook. I made a bunch of changes, and next time, I think I'll try it with fresh ginger.

Pear-Ginger Muffins

12 oz. crystallized ginger, finely chopped*
2 pounds pears, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamon
4 eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk (I used soy milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 and spray 24 muffin cups with cooking spray.
2. Mix together dry ingredients.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine wet ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, including ginger. Stir in pears.
4. Divide batter among 24 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly in the tins, then transfer to wire racks.

*I decided to finely chop my crystallized ginger in the Cuisinart. This was stupid, but ended up working. First, crystallized ginger is like gummi bears, so it turns into a big, sticky mass in the Cuisinart. Uh oh. I salvaged it by adding 1/2 cup of the flour from the recipe and pulsing until it looked finely chopped and the flour had made the ginger separate.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I finished something!

I had been posting every Wednesday, just by coincidence, but I missed last week because Lilah and I were in California visiting my parents. We had a wonderful time. It turns out that Lilah loves the swimming pool, and we did lots of family visiting. She's now a handful on the plane, though, really squirmy, easily bored, and often cranky. The guy next to us had two cocktails and it was an 11:00 a.m. flight.

Knitting: Frustrated by my lack of obvious progress on Irish Diamond Shawl, I decided on a quick project I found on Frog in Knots, thinking a shrug would be a nice, quick knit in a worsted weight cotton. I happened to have some worsted weight cotton and a need for a quick project, but shrugs are not flattering for my particular frame. String Bean popped into my head, since she had recently made Lilah a darling hat. And I had myself a project! Modeled pictures are right here.

Here's a detail shot:


Pattern - Ribbed Lace Bolero (Hey, it's a bolero, not a shrug like I've been saying for weeks. Can someone tell me the difference?)
Needles - Size 8 for ribbing, Size 10.5 for lace
Yarn - Pakucho Organic Cotton in Avocado, just over three skeins

Good things:

1. I love, love, love the Russian Join. It's easier than I thought it would be, and it looks very neat. Beats the heck out of the alternatives (except for the spit splice for wool).

2. This was a fun knit. The lace pattern was simple but fun, shaping nonexistent, finishing easy peasy.

3. I re-mastered the long-tail cast on, which I never use, and I learned the sewn bind-off, which is nice and flexible looking.

4. I love Pakucho Organic Cotton.

5. I've never cabled before, and I quickly learned cabling without a cable needle, which is used on the row before the ribbing starts again to make it look symmetrical. I think I did okay.

Things I would do differently next time:

1. I always agonize over when precisely I've reached the required length. I had a scant three inches of ribbing, and I should have gone on a bit more. I think even 3 1/2 inches would make a nice collar. I tend to obsess that I might be knitting too long, when I almost always short it instead.

2. I don't think my mattress stitch is that neat. I think I was doing it right but I think it's a bit wonky. I might just need practice, and maybe I need to check my knitting books to make sure I'm not missing something.

3. I sent it off, all excited, right after blocking, forgetting to sew down the collar! D'oh! Sorry, String Bean!

Reading: Vacation means lots of reading!

The Science of Harry Potter: If you're a big nerd like me, this is a fun read. The title is a little misleading. It's more like A Survey of Modern Science Using Harry Potter as a Springboard.

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke: I have a big complaint about this, the second Inkworld book by Cornelia Funke: I have to wait a year for the third! This book was excellent, but not a quick read. Apparently, it wasn't a planned sequel, which makes sense. Inkheart had kind of wrapped everything up, but there was plenty left to explore and Inkspell explores it well, and ends on a huge cliffhanger. If you enjoyed the first (which I certainly recommend reading if you haven't), you'll probably enjoy this one as well. But wait until next summer or so to read it, because Inkdeath comes out in September 2008. I believe these are being made into films. I sort of wonder if that's what made her decide to write sequels. The love of books, the sense of adventure, and the well-imagined world that made the first book so enjoyable are all present here.

Knit One. Kill Two by Maggie Sefton:The editing is atrocious (numerous typos include "doe" instead of "does"), and the author is fond of more exciting dialogue tags (people are always "declaring," "enthusing," and (I have no idea what this even means) "tweaking" their lines, which is really annoying, and worse, often used incorrectly. The same weird tag is often used multiple times, including "tweaked" twice within a page.) The heroine takes an instant and somewhat bizarre dislike to a guy in the story, telegraphing that he's destined to be a love interest in future books, and the reasoning is thin (he has the same height and hair color as her ex-boyfriend). All that said, there was something likeable about the heroine and the book in general. Kelly learns to knit as she and the knitting circle work through the clues to the real killer, and that's sort of fun (although who on earth ties knots in their knitting? Deliberately?). There's a recipe for cinnamon rolls at the end, but I already have two excellent ones and I'm not sure I buy lemon cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls. The two knitting patterns are on huge needles, as befits Kelly's extreme beginner status (although, I never liked those and started on 8s), so I won't be doing those any time soon. Does anyone look good in a tank top knit on size 15 needles? Maybe a total twig who needs to look a little more plump. Despite the annoying things about this book, I sort of liked the town and the knitting shop, and I think I might pick up the next one to see if the series gets better.

In Deep Voodoo by Stephanie Bond: This is mystery/romance and a fun, quick summer read. The heroine is really dumb. I don't think she's meant to be portrayed that way, but I found myself muttering, "What are you thinking, Penny?" about 97 times during the book. Penny's ex-husband, who lives in her painstakingly restored Victorian house with his new bimbo (who paints Penny's pride and joy pink, of all things), dies, stabbed through the heart, shortly after Penny stabs a voodoo doll at her divorce party. Penny's stupidity is annoying, and her love interest implausible, but something about this book was fun, so I'll probably pick up the next one. I think the fun is in the town of Mojo, Louisiana and its colorful inhabitants.

I have a ton of books to read right now. I have new mysteries from Rita Mae Brown, Diane Mott Davidson, and Donna Andrews. I want to read the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper again before they ruin it with the movie. On the juvenile fiction front, I also have several Eva Ibbotsen books (I've loved all of hers I've read), Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke, and a few Harry Potter knockoffs I thought I'd try.

Writing: Not a thing.

Cooking: Traveling. I did consult with my dad on grilling tofu. It was excellent. KnitPastis, I'd love to come over and cook! You just have to hold the baby :)