Monday, March 31, 2008

Take that, March!

Wow, I did not think there was any way I would finish this before March slipped away. Crazy. Apparently, my whining about how long Sleeve #1 took me caused some rift in space/time that made Sleeve #2 just fly by. I thought I would have a whole skein of Malabrigo left over, but I had to wind it and use a few yards for the last half of the neckband, so it's a good thing I had a sixth skein. My husband has promised to take pictures as soon as we have good sunshine. I think it's fantastic! I need to find a good camisole to go underneath. I really did think this was going to be too small, but it's a perfect fit. I will edit this post to add photos as soon as I have them.

Pattern: Simple Knitted Bodice by Stephanie Japel
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Velvet Grapes, six skeins (only a tiny bit of skein #6 used to finish off the bindoff on the neckline.
Needles: Size 7 Clover bamboo dpns and circulars, size 4 Crystal Palace dpns and circulars
Notes: I adore this yarn. I adore the structure of this pattern, which may have the least finishing of any sweater pattern. I liked the less-pointy Clover needles with the one-ply Malabrigo, which got a bit splitty with the Crystal Palace needles unless I paid close attention.
The only change I made in the pattern was to do 2 instead of 3 purl ridges at the neckband. Every other part had 2, and it just seemed to make sense.

Other knitting: I have been seized by the idea of a scarf based on the redhead gene for my SIL, who is a redhead. I remembered this scarf and googled around until I found it. I actually remembered it as a little...prettier. Not that this isn't cool, it's just not what I had in mind. Does anyone think I could assign a stitch (yo or k2tog, for example) to each amino acid and come up with a lace scarf I could make in a nice looking pattern? I could maybe do the stranded pattern, but with more muted colors and skipping the lettering at the ends. At any rate, this would be a Christmas project, to be done later on in the year, and I'm not sure I have yarn for it. I love the idea, and I think my SIL would, too, but I'm not that crazy about the look of the scarf.

Anyway, my April project will be the Opal Tiger socks, toe-up with short-row toe and heels, for Matt's birthday (which was in February). I screwed up the toe twice, and I'm hoping things go more smoothly this time!

Reading: I've just been finishing up the Jane Jeffry mysteries. The most recent, The Accidental Florist, was rather odd. There is a murder, but Jane and Shelley show almost no interest in it. There is some unnecessary melancholy added, and Jane and Shelley spend a lot of time planning a wedding. It reads as though Jill Churchill (really Janice Young Brooks) is ending the series, and was more occupied with wrapping up loose ends in the lives of Jane's family, Mel, and Shelley, than with a mystery. There was also apparently no editing done. Among the glaring errors is this: Jane mentions that she's glad she scooped the litterboxes in the basement since someone was coming over. A few pages later, Jane decides that her cats will be inside cats in their old age and goes to the store to get kitty litter and pans, then makes a big deal about her cats remembering how to use a litterbox from their kittenhood. Now, that's just sloppy, and the editor should have caught it. There's also a mention of something Jane supposedly has never told Mel, but she's told him in at least two previous books. I still enjoyed Jane and Shelley, and I was happy to see some non-mystery lines of plot resolved, but the mystery was seriously lacking and the errors grated. I wouldn't start with this one. Get Grime and Punishment and see how you like it, then keep going if you do. I like this series, and I'm willing to cut Churchill some slack on this one. (I usually read to the bitter end of a series, though even I abandoned (with sadness) the Cat Who... books, which became unreadable.)

I'm now reading the almost un-put-down-able What The Dead Know by Laura Lippman. Wow, what a gripping story.

Writing: Nothing to report. I think I need to change my goals. I prefer longer periods of writing, to let my train of thought really go, but that may not be possible with Lilah. I think I need to try to write for at least 15 minutes every day, which is a LAME goal to me, but it may be the only way for me to make progress at this point in my life. Although Lilah and I have been having play dates with a friend and her little boy, and we're working up to trading some babysitting, which could give me a chunk of time every week to frantically get writing done. I tend to only write if I know I have an hour or so, because I'd really rather spend a lot of time on it instead of losing my train of thought before I've finished a writing session. But if I'm going to get anything done at all, I need to try to change that.

Cooking: I am in the South now, which means Baby Vidalia onions in the spring! I'd never seen these before. Obviously, I've gotten Vidalias when they're available, but the baby version is new to me. I loved them. They're mild enough to use raw, but cooked, they had a nice, delicate flavor, sort of like leeks, only sweet. I decided to try them in a springy quinoa one-pot kind of dish. If I had had asparagus, I would have tossed it in olive oil and roasted at 400 degrees until lightly browned and served it on top.

Creamy Spring Quinoa

1 TBL olive oil
2 Baby Vidalia Onions, chopped (or any spring onion or shallots, about 2/3 cup)
2 cups quinoa, rinsed*
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
juice and grated zest of one lemon
4-6 oz. spinach
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook about 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add quinoa and stir to coat. Add water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook about 20 minutes, until quinoa grains open up and look like little spirals. Stir in lemon juice and zest, spinach, and goat cheese. Stir gently over very low heat until spinach wilts. Serve topped with parmesan and pine nuts.


YarnThrower said...

I am so glad that you sound so happy with your new sweater!! YAY!!!! Can't wait to see it! And, what a great excuse to go shopping to get something to wear under it. (In fact, I did that very thing today, too!)

On the socks, you've maybe already discarded this idea, though if you use the Turkish Cast On (or the magic cast on, though can't remember where I saw that, but it is very similar), then you don't have to do short rows on the just increase four stitches every other row until you get to your desired number of stitches. (I typically cast on 24 stitches with the Turkish Cast On (see FluffyKnitterDeb), then work one row even, then begin alternating increasing rows, etc...)

That is great that you may get some swap time with another mom. That is how I kept my sanity and managed to get some (**small**) house projects done before my oldest went to school. I totally understand what you are talking about!!

Have a great evening!

Knittypants said...

Yay, I'm glad you finished your sweater and are so happy with it. Now I can't wait for pictures, so I can see to :-)

String Bean said...

Pictures pictures pictures! I'll show you my FO if you show me yours! ;) How does the sweater fit? Do you need to send me an emergency gift?

Ooh, baby vidalia onions... I remember those. *drool* I used to eat them raw all the time when we lived in VA.

Mutti says thanks for the "happy birthday".

YarnThrower said...

I lost your e-mail address, so am contacting you via your blog :-)

I meant to include in my post today that I appreciated so much your comments regarding the white whole wheat flour, and poking the crust with a fork. I am going to purchase some of the flour (though totally spaced it when I was at the store today!), though I tried the trick with the fork, and things worked much better! I knew that you'd have some great ideas for that! I'm such a novice when it comes to cooking, though dh is surprised that I've come as far as I have. (I'm surprised by that, too, though so much to learn -- just like knitting that way, eh? Always something new to learn and try -- though with knitting, no dishes!)

I hope this finds you having a great day! Your "Cheerio patrol" comment on your g-mail profile thingy cracks me up!

Rachel said...

Ooh, I thought that one benefit to being hopelessly behind in blog reading would be that the photos promised "later" would be up by now. I'm impatient!

It definitely sounds as you though you need to set something up so you get a couple solid writing hours to yourself each week. Swapped babysitting sounds good. What about a young in-home babysitter? You know, like a junior-high-aged kid you wouldn't have to pay much who could just come to your house after school a couple days a week?